Dr. Cristián Correa Guzmán

Adjunct Professor
Instituto de Conservación Biodiversidad y Territorio*
Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas
Universidad Austral de Chile

Phone: +56-63-222-1740
E-mail: cristiancorrea@gmail.com

Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos Naturales (ICBTe)
Universidad Austral de Chile
Campus Isla Teja s/n, Valdivia, Chile

Former labs (degree achieved): Irene Gregory-Eaves & Chris Solomon (postdoc), Andrew Hendry (PhD), Mart Gross, Martin Thiel (BSc+).



Current research

Ecological impacts of anthropogenic drawdowns
The littoral habitat of lakes and reservoirs is of crucial importance for sustaining biodiversity, productivity, and conferring food web stability to whole lentic ecosystems. Artificial water-level fluctuations in temperate North America typically involve maximum drawdown in winter with the double-purpose of generating hydroelectricity at high demand, and creating space to contain spring snowmelt. At low water levels, however, the emerged littoral is exposed to atmospheric decomposition and weathering, and desiccation and freezing can kill the aquatic biota that is unable to follow the water-level fluctuations (e.g., aquatic plants, alga, and a fraction of the invertebrate community). In collaboration with a multidisciplinary team from McGill University, we are testing a suite of hypotheses that will help clarify important processes, mechanisms and ecological consequences of exacerbated drawdown in lake ecosystems. This knowledge will help managers enhance drawdown schedules in order to reduce the undesirable impacts of dam operation.

Impacts of introduced trout on Patagonian freshwater ecosystems
Species traveling beyond their native range through anthropogenic pathways sometimes become invasive in novel habitats changing local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The ecological effects of invasive species are so widespread and acute that they are regarded as one of the main global threats to biodiversity. However, it is generally difficult to disentangle the effects of invasive species from alternative environmental stressors such as habitat degradation, pollution or climate change. Additionally, it is often the case that there is no baseline information describing the original state of ecosystems obscuring the effects of invaders. I am interested in understanding the adaptive and evolutionary consequences of biological invasions. My model system is located in Chilean Patagonia where I study the effects of invasive trout on native galaxoid fishes, food webs and ecosystems. Galaxoids are the most specious taxon of the sparse freshwater fish fauna of the temperate austral world, and amongst the most threatened fishes known. Trout – widely introduced for over a century in austral countries – are the main putative cause of the endangerment of galaxoids yet quantitative evidence is evasive, particularly for lakes. I am employing a variety of approaches to i) locate and describe the ecological properties of pristine lakes and compare them to invaded lakes, ii) uncover effects on native fish populations, iii) investigate adaptive responses of native fish, and iv) study cascading effects and historical changes in zooplankton communities. This multidisciplinary approach will dissipate much of the uncertainty associated with the effects of introduced trout, and will orient future management and conservation efforts.

Aplochiton diversity
In collaboration with Dominique Alò and Leyla Cardenas (Instituto de Ecología y Evolución, Universidad Austral de Chile) we are investigating the diversity of the genus Aplochiton, a distinct group of endangered fishes within the galaxiids. Results of morphological and mitochondrial DNA analyses of specimens collected in a wide distributional range, made us re-think the true diversity of the group. Previously accepted morphospecies had very little support whereas controversial species gained substantialsupport.
Hydropower projects in Patagonia - Citizen involvement and opinion
One downside of rapid economic development is that often nature is pressed beyond responsible limits. Chile is a developing country that does not escape to this pattern. It turned out that many of my research areas are nearby, or within, the areas of influence of very large hydropower projects (i.e., Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Aysén, a.k.a. HidroAysén,  and Proyecto Central Hidroeléctrica Cuervo). This gave me the opportunity to make direct comparisons between our surveys and those reported in the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) of these mega-projects, and somehow check the performance of the Chilean Service of Environmental Assessment (SEA). I have done this in my spare time, and largely restricting myself only to affairs related to freshwater and diadromous fish fauna. So far, the results have been disappointing; the companies presented very poor EIAs either despising the capacities of public services, or giving for granted political bypasses to sustainable development. Despite the deficiencies in the EIA, HydroAysén was approved in May, 2011, by the regional environment commission in the southern city of Coyhaique. This has motivated massive social movement and public protests across the country. Furthermore, several legal instances have been launched to investigate a number of irregularities in the project’s evaluation process. See related documents (in Spanish)...
Awards and Honors
2013-2015 CONICYT-PAI Attraction and Insertion of Advanced Human Capital Program grant, Chile (PI, C. Correa).
2012 Short-term visitor to the National institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), Knoxville, Tennessee
Limnology Centre of the McGill Department of Biology, Vineberg Family Fellowship
Canadian Association of Universities, LACREG grant (PI, C. Correa)
National Geographic Society, Research and Exploration grant (PI, A. Hendry)
CONICYT scholarship for graduate studies. Government of Chile.
Government of Canada Award. Full scholarship for graduate studies.
Best undergrad student award. Faculty of Marine Science, Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile.
(By clicking the PDF links, you are requesting me an electronic copy of my article. Contact me for delivery by other means.)

Alò, D*, C. Correa*, C. Arias and L. Cárdenas (2013) Diversity of Aplochiton fishes (Galaxiidea) and the taxonomic resurrection of A. marinus. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71577. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071577. *Equal contribution. [pdf]

Correa, C (2012) Tissue preservation biases in stable isotopes of fishes and molluscs from Patagonian lakes. Journal of Fish Biology 81: 2064-2073. [pdf]

Correa, C, A Bravo and AP Hendry (2012) Reciprocal trophic niche shifts in native and invasive fish: salmonids and galaxiids in Patagonian lakes. Freshwater Biology 57: 1769–1781. [pdf]

Correa, C & AP Hendry (2012) Invasive salmonids and lake order interact in the decline of puye grande Galaxias platei in western Patagonia lakes. Ecological Applications 22(3): 828–842. [pdf]

Palkovacs, EP, MT Kinnison, C Correa, CM Dalton & AP Hendry (2012) Fates beyond traits: ecological consequences of human-induced trait change. Evolutionary Applications 5(2): 183-191. [pdf]

Rivadeneira, MM, P Hernández, JA Baeza, S Boltaña, M Cifuentes, C Correa, A Cuevas, E Valle, I Hinojosa, N Ulrich, N Valdivia, N Vásquez, A Zander, & M Thiel (2010) Testing the abundant-centre hypothesis using intertidal porcelain crabs along the Chilean coast: linking abundance and life-history variation. Journal of Biogeography 37: 486-498. [pdf] [see also, article featured in front cover; pdf]

Crispo, E, JD DiBattista, C Correa, X Thibert-Plante, AE McKellar, AK Schwartz, D Berner, LF De León, & AP Hendry (2010) The evolution of phenotypic plasticity in response to anthropogenic disturbance. Evolutionary Ecology Research 12: 47-66. [pdf]

Correa, C, & M Gross (2008) Chinook salmon invade southern South America. Biological Invasions 10:615–639. [pdf]

Thiel, M & C Correa (2004) Female rock shrimp Rhynchocinetes typus mate in rapid succession up a male dominance hierarchy. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57:62–68. [pdf]

Correa, C & M Thiel (2003) Population structure and operational sex ratio in the rock shrimp Rhynchocinetes typus (Decapoda: Caridea). Journal of Crustacean Biology 23(4): 849–861. [pdf]

Correa, C & M Thiel (2003) Mating systems in caridean shrimp (Decapoda: Caridea) and their evolutionary consequences for sexual dimorphism and reproductive biology. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 76: 219-235. [pdf]

Correa, C, JA Baeza, IA Hinojosa & M Thiel (2003) Male dominance hierarchy and mating tactics in the rock shrimp Rhynchocinetes typus (Decapoda: Caridea). Journal of Crustacean Biology 23(1): 33-45. [pdf]

Correa, C, JA Baeza, E Dupré, IA Hinojosa & M Thiel (2000) Mating behavior and fertilization success of three ontogenetic stages of male rock shrimp Rhynchocinetes typus (Dacapoda: Caridea). Journal of Crustacean Biology 20(4): 628-640. [pdf]

Curriculum vitae [Download PDF]


Last update: Oct. 15, 2013