As I always define it when someone ask me what I work with, ecohydrology is the study of the relationship between hydrological and ecological processes. But to be honest, to me it is more than just that. Growing up and living all my life in desert areas of northwestern Mexico and southwestern USA, the relationship or interaction with water availability or scarcity is just a way of living. From the smell of wet earth before a storm and the creosote scented afternoons after the rain, to the ascent and senescence of vegetation with the arrival and departure of the monsoon and everything in between, I see ecohydrology as part of my life, a really enjoyable part of my life.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
I obtained a degree in Chemistry and a master’s degree in Natural Resources from the Instituto Tecnologico de Sonora (ITSON) in Mexico. I am currently studying a Ph. D. in Geological Sciences in the School of Earth and The Space Exploration in Arizona State University (ASU).
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
I started my path in ecohydrology during my master’s studies. Initially I was focusing my efforts in chemical analysis of plants, however I wanted to do something more challenging, so I met Prof. Jaime Garatuza-Payan, who became my advisor, and I started working with water and carbon fluxes over a tropical dry forest under the influence of the North American Monsoon (NAM). During my master I also met Prof. Enrico Yepez, who became part of my dissertation committee and his energy and enthusiasm towards ecohydrology ignited even more a growing interest in the field. Prof. Garatuza-Payan and Prof. Yepez were my inspiration to study ecohydrology.
After I got my master’s degree, I continued working at ITSON as a research assistant, getting involved more and more into ecohydrology and interacting with excellent researcher from Mexico and the US. I started focusing more and more in the study of the role of water availability and precipitation variability of land surface-atmosphere interactions in arid and semi-arid landscapes.
During my doctoral studies in ASU, I have continued working with land surface-atmosphere interactions, but I have combined the study not only of natural landscape but also urban landscapes, and I have expanded the research tools I use. During my Ph. D. I have worked with carbon fluxes of urban patches in Phoenix, AZ, the landscape and environmental controls in land surface-atmosphere interaction in ecosystems of the NAM area and the interannual variability of water-energy-carbon fluxes in two woody-lant encroached ecosystem of the southwest of the US, one in the Santa Rita Experimental Range and one in the Jornada Experimental Range. My advisor, Prof. Enrique R. Vivoni has been also a fundamental inspiration in my academic and scientific life. His neatness, support and advisory have been fundamental to enhance my skills and research vision.
After finishing my Ph. D., I pretend to continue with my efforts trying to understand the role of climate variability in land surface-atmosphere interactions, involving more and more into urban landscapes but continuing with natural ecosystems as well. I hope I can ignite the ecohydrology spark to my future students in the same way my mentors did with me.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I think there are two fundamental areas that represent important paths to follow in ecohydrology. The first one is the urban ecohydrology, and from my point of view it represents important challenges for the scientific community. The impact of cities in the water cycle is enormous and the role of the built environment in ecohydrologial processes is still not clear due to the heterogeneity and patchiness of urban landscapes or also called “urban ecosystems”.
The second area is the social ecohydrology. I think it is important to start considering ourselves, the human beings, as part of the ecohydrological processes and not as something foreign to natural systems. I think we should understand not only how ecological and hydrological processes relate to each other but how those processes affect us and how we affect them.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
I have two favorite papers that I like to read very often. The first one is Huxman et al., (2004) “Precipitation pulses and carbon fluxes in semiarid and arid ecosystems”. I think this paper is fundamental for the understanding of the ecoydrological processes in arid and semi-arid ecosystems as it conceptualize in a really clear way the response of ecosystem’s biophysical processes to precipitation pulses.
For the second paper, in fact I have two that are closely related and belong to the same author. Baldocchi (2003) “Assessing the eddy covariance technique for evaluating carbon dioxide exchange rates of ecosystems: past, present and future” and Badocchi (2008) “’Breathing’ of the terrestrial biosphere: lessons learned from a global network of carbon dioxide flux measurement systems”. I think these are a couple of “must read” papers for everyone working with ecosystems fluxes (not only carbon fluxes).
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
What I like the most is to spent time with my two kids, but when I have time, I also enjoy jogging during the nights, stargazing, visiting natural places (field sites, national parks, national forests, etc.), playing pc games (GTA V, Starcraft II, etc.) and watching sports (Football and Futbol).