Francisco Valera Hernández

PhD, Tenured Scientist




Department of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology

Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Crtra. de Sacramento s/n La Cañada de San Urbano,
E-04120 Almería

Phone: +34 950 281045
Fax: +34 950 277100


Studies and affiliations

Since 2006: Tenured Scientist, Experimental Station of Arid Zones (Spanish Council for Scientific Research), Almería, Spain

2004-2005: Research Fellow, Ramón y Cajal Programme (granted by MEC) and Programme for Returning Scientists, (granted by Junta de Andalucía), Experimental Station of Arid Zones (Spanish Council for Scientific Research), Almería, Spain.

2002-2003: Hired Research Staff, Experimental Station of Arid Zones (Spanish Council for Scientific Research), Almería, Spain.

1999-2001: Hired Research Staff, National Natural Sciences Museum (Spanish Council for Scientific Research), Madrid, Spain.

1997-1998: Post-doc Fellow (granted by MEC), Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology (Austrian Academy of Sciences), Vienna, Austria.

1993-1995: Assistant and Associated Professor, Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, Granada University (Granada, Spain) and Department of Animal and Vegetal Biology and Ecology, Jaén University (Jaén, Spain).

1992: Post-doc Fellow (granted by Granada University), Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology (Austrian Academy of Sciences), Vienna, Austria.

1992: PhD, Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, Granada University, Granada, Spain.

1988-1991: Pre-doc Fellow (granted by MEC), Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, Granada University, Granada, Spain.

1988: Degree in Biology, Granada University, Granada, Spain. 

Research interests

Behavioural and evolutionary biology with main focus on:

* Evolution and ecology of host-parasite interactions, with particular emphasis on parasite specialization.

I am interested in exploring this topic both from the host and the parasite’s point of view. I consider the proximate mechanisms regulating host-parasite interactions, like host health status and ecological factors such as host size and sociability. I also pay attention to relevant features of the natural history of the parasite that are noteworthy to understand host-parasite relationships (e.g. diapause and environmental factors that influence it). In cooperation with Dr. A. Barbosa I am studying the effect of climate change on parasite distribution and host-parasite relationships.

* Sexual selection, the evolution of secondary sexual characters and intersexual conflicts.

My main interests are:

- Evolution of secondary sexual characters on both male and females and mutual mate choice.

- The nest as a secondary sexual character.

- Intersexual conflict: mate and brood desertion, extra-pair paternity and related male and female strategies (paternity assurance strategies, manipulation of information, male coercive strategies such as aggresion and punishment).

- Influence of ecological factors on extra-pair paternity rates.

* Interspecific interactions and its implications for conservation.

I study the consequences of interspecific interactions in terms of conservation. Human activity (specially agricultural practices) is also considered in relation to its influence on diet, foraging behaviour and breeding biology of birds in agroecosystems and expansive and regressive processes of birds.

Current Projects

Specialization and Speciation in Host-Parasite Relationships: Synchronization of Life Cycles and Allochronic Isolation. 2006-2007 (Main researcher: F. Valera)

Phenotypic Variability and Patterns of Connection among Populations of the Trumpeter finch Bucanetes githagineus. 2006-2008 (Main researcher: Dr. E. Moreno, EEZA, CSIC).

Host-Parasite Interactions and Immune Response in Three Species of Antarctic Penguins: Effect of Global Climate Change I. 2006-2008. (Main researcher: Dr. A. Barbosa, EEZA, CSIC).

Other Projects

The relationship between courtship feeding, life-history and sexual selection in the European roller, Coracias garrulus. In cooperation with Dr. R. Václav (Slovak Academy of Sciences) and Dr. A. Barbosa (EEZA, CSIC).

Estudio de una especie de reciente colonización, Bucanetes githagineus, indicadora de zonas áridas: ecogenética, ecomorfología, ecofisiología e implicaciones para su conservación. (Main researcher: Dr. E. Moreno, EEZA, CSIC).

Biodiversity and Conservation in Arid Zones. (Main researcher: F. Valera). 


Ecological Entomology

The effect of parasite density on host colonisation success by a mobile avian ectoparasite

Restoration Ecology

Natural cavity restoration as an alternative to nest box supplementation

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

Landscape-moderated biodiversity effects of ground herb cover in olive groves: Implications for regional biodiversity conservation

Veterinary Record

Survey of husbandry practices for bovidae in zoos: The importance of parasite management for reintroduction programmes


Defining host range: host–parasite compatibility during the non-infective phase of the parasite also matters

Journal of Ornithology

Cellular and humoral immunity in two highly demanding energetic life stages: reproduction and moulting in the Chinstrap Penguin

Plant Biology

Regeneration of a keystone semiarid shrub over its range in Spain: habitat degradation overrides the positive effects of plant–animal mutualisms

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

Host preference of a haematophagous avian ectoparasite: A micronutrient supplementation experiment to test an evolutionary trade-off

Parasites and Vectors

Culicoides paolae and C. Circumscriptus as potential vectors of avian haemosporidians in an arid ecosystem 06 Biological Sciences 0602 Ecology 05 Environmental Sciences 0502 Environmental Science and Management 06 Biological Sciences 0604 Genetics


Off-host longevity of the winged dispersal stage of Carnus hemapterus (Insecta: Diptera) modulated by gender, body size and food provisioning

Journal of Apicultural Research

Any role for the dissemination of Nosema spores by the blue-tailed bee-eater Merops philippinus?

Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics

Local-scale and landscape disturbances impact through distinct pathways on the regional variation in seed dispersal by mammals in threatened semiarid habitats

Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Mode of attachment and pathology caused by Parorchites zederi in three species of penguins: Pygoscelis papua, Pygoscelis adeliae, and Pygoscelis antarctica in Antarctica


Age-related differences in the gastrointestinal microbiota of chinstrap penguins (pygoscelis antarctica)

Experimental Parasitology

Nest ecology of blood parasites in the European roller and its ectoparasitic carnid fly

Journal of Helmintology

Morphological, molecular and phylogenetic analyses of the spirurid nematode Stegophorus macronectes (Johnston & Mawson, 1942)


Short- and long-term effects of tracking devices on the European Roller Coracias garrulus

Diversity and Distributions

A pan-European, multipopulation assessment of migratory connectivity in a near-threatened migrant bird


Disentangling migratory routes and wintering grounds of Iberian near-threatened European rollers Coracias garrulus

Journal of Helmintology

Morphological, molecular and phylogenetic analyses of the spirurid nematode Stegophorus macronectes (Johnston & Mawson, 1942)

Polar Biology

Erythrocytic abnormalities in three Antarctic penguin species along the Antarctic Peninsula: biomonitoring of genomic damage

Animal Behaviour

Nest decorations: An 'extended' female badge of status?

Animal Behaviour

Nest decorations: An 'extended' female badge of status?

Journal of Arid Environments

Biogeography of haemo- and ectoparasites of an arid-land bird, the Trumpeter finch

International Journal of Biometeorology

Cavity types and microclimate: implications for ecological, evolutionary, and conservation studies

Molecular Ecology -pdf

Refugia, colonization and diversification of an arid-adapted bird: Coincident patterns between genetic data and ecological niche modelling


Temperature during the free-living phase of an ectoparasite influences the emergence pattern of the infective phase


Experimental assessment of the effects of gastrointestinal parasites on offspring quality in chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica)


Intra-specific variability in life-cycle synchronization of an ectoparasitic fly to its avian host

Parasitology -pdf

Mixed life-history strategies in a local population of the ectoparasitic fly Carnus hemapterus

Polar Biology -pdf

Geographic variation in beak colouration in Gentoo Penguins Pygoscelis papua

Oecologia -pdf

Traditional versus non-traditional nest-site choice: alternative decision strategies for nest-site selection

Parasitology Research -pdf

Gastrointestinal parasites in Chinstrap Penguins from Deception Island, South Shetlands, Antarctica

Parasitology Research -pdf

Reproductive anatomy and fecundity estimation of the haematophagous ectoparasite Carnus hemapterus

Concentration of trace elements in feathers of three Antarctic penguins: Geographical and interspecific differences

Journal of Arid Environments -pdf

History and adaptation stories of the vertebrate fauna of southern Spain’s semi-arid areas

Oecologia -pdf

Social information in nest colonisation and occupancy in a long-lived, solitary breeding bird

Environmental Microbiology Reports -pdf

Evaluation of large-scale dissemination of Nosema ceranae spores by European bee-eaters Merops apiaster

Ibis -pdf

Population decline is accompanied by loss of genetic diversity in the Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology -pdf

White tail markings are an indicator of quality and affect mate preference in rock sparrows

Toxicology Letters -pdf

Heavy metals and essentials elements in bones of three species of penguins from King George Island, Antarctica

Antarctic Science -pdf

Apparent absence of Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Toxoplasma gondii in three species of penguins along Antarctic Peninsula

Journal of Arid Environments -pdf

Breeding parameters of the trumpeter finch at the periphery of its range: A case study with mainland expanding and island populations

Acta Oecologica -pdf

Plasticity of nest site selection in the trumpeter finch: a comparison between two habitats

Journal of Biogeography -pdf

Colonization patterns and genetic structure of peripheral populations of the trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus) from Northwest Africa, the Canary Islands and the Iberian Peninsula

Folia Zoologica

The importance of breeding density and breeding synchrony for paternity assurance strategies in the lesser grey shrike

Parasitology -pdf

Synchronization of host-parasite cycles by means of diapause: host influence and parasite response to involuntary host shifting

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society -pdf

Ectoparasite load is linked to ontogeny and cell-mediated immunity in an avian host system with pronounced hatching asynchrony

Biodiversity and Conservation -pdf

The role of natural habitats in agricultural systems for bird conservation: the case of the threatened Lesser Grey Shrike.

Annales Zoologici Fennici

Seed selection by the Trumpeter finch, Bucanetes githagineus. What currency does this arid land species value?

Journal of Ornithology -pdf

Temperature but not rainfall influences timing of breeding in a desert bird, the trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus)

Ecoscience -pdf

Thriving in an arid environment: High prevalence of avian lice in low humidity conditions

Marine Ornithology -pdf

Southernmost record of the magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus in Antarctica

Biodiversity and Conservation -pdf

Population trends and spatial synchrony in peripheral populations of the endangered Lesser Grey Shrike in response to environmental change

Journal of Ornithology -pdf

Do melanin-based tail patterns predict individual quality and sex in Lesser Grey Shrikes Lanius minor?

Biodiversity and Conservation -pdf

Philopatry, dispersal patterns and nest-site reuse in Lesser Grey Shrikes (Lanius minor)


Northward expansion of a desert bird: Effects of climate change?

En M. Soler y colaboradores. Fauna en Acción. Guía para observar comportamiento animal en España.

El nido del Pájaro Moscón

En M. Yanes y J.M. Delgado: Aves Esteparias en Andalucía. Bases para su conservación

Limitación de recursos en zonas áridas y el papel fundamental de especies ingenieras de ecosistemas

Biodiversity and Conservation -pdf

Parasite pressure and its effects on blood parameters in a stable and dense population of the endangered Lesser Grey Shrike

European Journal of Entomology -pdf

Life-history variation in three coexisting species of Carnid flies (Diptera: Carnidae), Carnus hemapterus, Hemeromyia anthracina and Hemeromyia longirostris

Manuales de Conservación de la Naturaleza, 3. Consejería de Medio Ambiente. Junta de Andalucía. Sevilla

Camachuelo Trompetero. En M. Yanes y J.M. Delgado: Aves Esteparias en Andalucía. Bases para su conservación

Parasitology -pdf

Prolonged diapause in the ectoparasite Carnus hemapterus (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha, Acalyptratae) – how frequent is it in parasites?

Journal of Arid Environments -pdf

The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) as an ecosystem engineer in arid environments

Condor -pdf

Dietary specialization on high protein seeds by adult and nestling serins

Animal Behaviour -pdf

Males prefer ornamented females: a field experiment of male choice in the rock sparrow


Seedling establishment in Olea europaea. Seed size and microhabitat affect growth and survival

Auk -pdf

Clutch enlargement in Lesser Gray Shrikes (Lanius minor) in Slovakia when food is superabundant: a maladaptive response?

Parasitology -pdf

Size vs. health as a cue for host choice: a test of the Tasty Chick Hypothesis

Behavioral Ecology -pdf

Male shrikes punish unfaithful females

Journal of Parasitology -pdf

Interspecific parasite exchange in a mixed colony of birds

Journal of Arid Environments -pdf

Low prevalence of haematozoa in Trumpeter finches Bucanetes githagineus from Southeastern Spain: additional support for a restricted distribution of blood parasites in arid lands

Folia Zoologica

Habitat composition and habitat use in the Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)


Why does the Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) seldom store food?: determinants of impaling in an uncommon storing species

Ethology -pdf

Tail length and mutual mate choice in bearded tits (Panurus biarmicus)

Biodiversity and Conservation -pdf

Natural and human-mediated factors in the recovery and subsequent expansion of the Purple swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio


Factors shaping the seedfall pattern of a bird-dispersed plant


Breeding biology and breeding success of the Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) in a stable and dense population

Oikos -pdf

Early effects of rodent post-dispersal seed predation on the outcome of the plant-seed disperser interaction

Control integrado de las malas hierbas. (ed. by C. Fernández-Quintanilla et al. & Phytoma S.A.). ISBN:84-921910-5-8

El uso de herbicidas y la conservación del medio ambiente: efectos sobre la flora y la fauna


Diet plasticity in blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla): the ability to overcome nutritional constraints imposed by agricultural intensification

Folia Oecologica

Foraging assemblages of birds in different olive plantations during the second half of March

Ecoscience -pdf

Breeding system and the role of floral visitors in seed production of a "few-flowered" perennial herb, Paeonia broteroi


Multi-male display sites in serins (Serinus serinus)

Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences -pdf

Female extra-pair behaviour and environmental quality in the Serin Serinus serinus: a test of the "constrained female hypothesis"

British Birds

Juvenile Penduline tit parasitising another nest

Efecto de los sistemas de laboreo sobre las aves

Functional Ecology -pdf

Fruit size in wild olives: implications for avian seed dispersal


Habitat alteration and plant intra-specific competition for seed dispersers. An example with Olea europaea var. sylvestris


The importance of different paternity guards in the polygynandrous Penduline tit (Remiz pendulinus)

Condor -pdf

Effectiveness, biases and mortality in the use of apomorphine to determining the diet of granivorous passerines

Behavioral Ecology -pdf

Egg burial in Penduline tits (Remiz pendulinus): its role in nest desertion and female polyandry


Seasonal change in female mate choice criteria in Penduline tits (Remiz pendulinus)

Animal Behaviour -pdf

Nest size variation and its importance for mate choice in Penduline tits (Remiz pendulinus)

Animal Behaviour -pdf

Female mate choice and nest desertion in Penduline tits (Remiz pendulinus): the importance of nest quality

Journal für Ornithologie

The expansion of Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) through migration and wintering


The conflict between nest guarding and mate guarding in Penduline tits (Remiz pendulinus)

Biological Conservation -pdf

Past and current distribution of the Purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) in the Iberian Peninsula

Journal für Ornithologie

The situation of Penduline tit (Remiz pendulinus) in southern Europe: a new stage of its expansion



Ctra. de Sacramento s/n, La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120, Almería (Spain)

Tel: (+34) 950281045 Fax: (+34) 950277100 ISN: 0*1592 sip: Skype: voip.eeza


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