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Aquatic Environmental Science
Dr Estebans current research is twofold: (1) she leads a successful programme that aims to link science with conservation through research on `cryptic biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems. `Cryptic biodiversity refers to organisms invisible to the naked eye that have (until now) been excluded from conservation surveys and habitat management practice - yet, they are the foundations of food webs and help habitats to bounce back in response to environmental change. The work is in partnership with Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and Pond Conservation Trust. One of the key outputs of her research is the inclusion of `cryptic biodiversity in conservation guidelines and habitat management plans in a variety of nature reserves in Dorset (UK). This research has recently been the topic of a correspondence in Nature; (2) characterization at molecular and morphological levels of the rare aquatic microbial consortia that thrive in wet woodlands, some being new species to science. These rare habitats sustain a rather large reservoir of undocumented microbial species and microbial consortia. The research of this oasis of microbes is supported with grants from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Systematics Association (UK). Dr Esteban is also a dynamic Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador; her public-engagement activities and work with schools to promote aquatic sciences received a national award in the House of Lords in 2010
Her research interests focus on biodiversity at the microbial level in order to understand and predict the functioning of aquatic systems by characterizing microbial biodiversity at local and regional scales, and by defining the role played by microbes in the natural environment and food webs.
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