OA research stories: Elisa Bonaccorso

elisa-bonaccorsoIn this latest research story, co-author Elisa Bonaccorso tells us how publishing open access (OA) enabled her work to reach the scientific world in “real time”.

Understanding the evolutionary history of a high Andean endemic: the Ecuadorian hillstar (Oreotrochilus chimborazo)” published in Neotropical Biodiversity.

Published Open Access in March 2016.

Downloads: 1,367*

I am an Ecologist and Evolutionary Biologist interested in understanding patterns and processes of evolutionary diversification of birds, especially across the Andes. This study was part of Carlos Rodríguez’s undergraduate thesis, the lead author of the paper, who is now pursuing his PhD.

We were interested in understanding the origin of colour differentiation in the throat of Oreotrochilus chimborazo, a bird that lives in paramo ecosystem from extreme southern Colombia to southern Ecuador.  We wanted to know if differences observed in the population that lives in Chimborazo volcano was the result of either geographic/ecological isolation, or sexual selection. We also wanted to explore possible genetic isolation of the populations of this bird along the Ecuadorian paramos, since patches of this ecosystem tend to come in “islands” separated from each other by a matrix of montane forest and other unsuitable habitats.

The study was designed to have representation of all major paramo “islands” along the range of the species and, of course, the distinct population from Chimborazo volcano. Our research, however, did not reveal virtually any genetic structure signaling isolation, but we think such a pattern may result just from short time of isolation of populations (current paramo ecosystem have only been undisturbed for the last 10,000-13,000 years or so), and the inability of the genetic markers we used to track this recent isolation.

“…that we are connected to the scientific world in ‘real time’ “

We chose to publish our paper open access because it ensures that anybody interested in our research has the opportunity to read our paper. It means that we are connected to the scientific world in “real time”, even if part of the scientific world does not always have access to knowledge. We selected Neotropical Biodiversity because of the focus of the journal on Neotropical research and  the opportunity of publishing open access without any cost to either authors or readers. [Editor’s note: all article publishing charges for Neotropical Biodiversity are funded by SENESCYT.]

*Data recorded 26/01/2016