Dr. Lina Valencia focuses on expanding GWC’s program in Colombia, and the Tropical Andes, by developing partnerships with NGOs and the government. This includes identifying key conservation players and building the capacity of individuals and organizations to meet the complex conservation challenges the country faces. Much of her work focuses on developing collaborative, inclusive and community-based conservation initiative to ensure the conservation and recovery of endangered species. Lina is originally from Colombia, and completed her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin focused on understanding how to promote landscape connectivity for endangered primates in human-modified landscapes.
Lina lived in Colombia for 25 years before moving to the United States to start her PhD. Her research evaluated how land use changes influence movement and dispersal patterns of primates to assist decision-making for conservation management of endangered species in Colombia. She used genomic tools and GIS to investigate how cattle ranching influences the dispersal of the Silvery-brown Tamarin, an endemic/endangered primate from Colombia, in order to design effective habitat corridors.
She has worked in the Neotropics for more than eight years, primarily in Colombia, but she has also conducted fieldwork in Ecuador and Panama. Most of her field experience is with primates collecting behavioral, ecological and census data, but she has undertaken short research projects with small arboreal mammals. In addition, Lina has worked with genetics for more than seven years, exploring how genetic tools can contribute to the conservation of primates. She has combined this with species distribution modeling approaches, spatial analysis and GIS analyses in general to addressing how animals respond to environmental changes and habitat fragmentation.
In addition, Lina developed a conservation project to promote Silvery-brown Tamarin population recovery and survival in degraded habitats through habitat conservation and community involvement. There she has collaborated to build new scientific knowledge about the viability of tamarin populations in highly degraded habitats due to cattle ranching, and raised stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the species’ importance. She has worked closely with community members to increase understanding of the threats and degree of endemicity of tamarins, the species’ role in the ecosystem and in the community’s livelihoods, and instilled a sense of pride and ownership in the community of the tamarin. She has also worked with cattle ranchers to assess the viability of alternative cattle ranching practices to implement silvopastures in their farms and promote biodiversity conservation. Lina believes in the value and power of partnerships for conservation and specially the need to collaborate with communities and local actors.