Héctor Ruiz Villar

Predoctoral researcher

Instituto Mixto de Investigación en Biodiversidad

Academic history

  • 2018-Present: PhD Student (Severo Ochoa pre-doctoral Fellowship) at the Biodiversity Research Institute. PhD Supervisor: José Vicente López Bao.
  • Jun-Nov 2018: Research assistant: Scottish Wildcat Action (Scottish Natural Heritage) & WildCRU (University of Oxford), Inverness, Scotland, U.K.
  • Jun 2016-Apr 2017: Field manager and Research Assistant: Kalahari Research Centre (South Africa), Population Ecology Group, University of Zürich, Switzerland.
  • Jan 2015-Jan 2016: Field technician: Kalahari Meerkat Project (South Africa), University of Cambridge, UK.
  • 2012-2013: MSc Natural Risks, University of León, Spain.
  • 2007-2012: BSc Biology, University of León, Spain.

Research interests

  • Ecology, behaviour and conservation of medium carnivores.
  • Carnivores in human-modified landscapes.
  • Movement Ecology.

The Cantabrian Mountains are a human-modified area of the north of Spain where some animal species have adapted their behaviour to coexist with humans. In the area it is remarkable the traditional livestock farming that modifies the landscape and can benefit certain rodent species. The European Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), the research species of my PhD thesis, is the only wild felid that inhabits these mountains, and since its diet in the area consist principally on rodents, it is possible that traditional farming activities favour the explosions in its main food item. However, on the downside, coexisting with humans can also increase mortality and change the species behaviour. By analysing the diet, behaviour and habitat suitability I will determine the benefits and cost for wildcats derived from living in a human-modified landscape.


  • Ruiz-Villar H., Morales-González A, Bombieri G., Zarzo-Arias A. and Penteriani V. 2018. Characterization of a brown bear aggregation during the hyperphagia period in the Cantabrian Mountains, NW Spain Ursus.