Roberto Fiorini Torrico

Research Themes

  • Conservation Biology
  • Primate Ecology and Behavior
  • Conservation Physiology


Currently, I am a PhD student at State University of Santa Cruz (Ilhéus, Bahia, Brazil) through a collaboration with the Antwerp Zoo Centre for Research and Conservation. My research is part of the overall research program of the BioBrasil Project, and I also collaborate with the Bahian Lion Tamarin Conservation Initiative. Both projects focus on learning more about the golden-headed lion tamarin (GHLT), a small endangered primate, and its habitat, the Southern Bahian Atlantic Forest, and providing relevant information to plan, test and implement conservation measures. 

Research interests

I am mainly interested in investigating the hormonal and behavioral responses used by primates to face environmental changes caused by human activities. For my PhD project, specifically, I evaluate the availability of plant food items, measure two non-invasive physiological markers (fecal glucocorticoids and triiodothyronine) and monitor the activity budgets of GHLTs. The aim is to better understand how changes in resource availability within a highly fragmented landscape can affect energy acquisition and expenditure of GHLTs. In the future, I want to delve more into the link between social behavior and stress physiology and how the reduced habitat connectivity in fragmented landscapes impacts the social and ecological opportunities of wild GHLTs.

Brief biography

My interest in ecology started during my undergraduate studies in Environmental Engineering at the Catholic University of “San Pablo” in Bolivia. To obtain the bachelor’s degree (2014), I worked in a project, supported by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), to determine the water quality of a river basin in Comarapa (Bolivia) through the assessment of the diversity of benthic macroinvertebrates and water parameters. After that, I got involved in two internships: the first, also financed by GIZ, evaluated the soil quality of small farms in Aiquile (Bolivia), and the second in Toro Toro National Park (Bolivia) where I participated in the educational activities and monitoring of fauna, flora, and paleontological sites. Then, I was awarded a scholarship to continue my studies in the master course in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (Tropimundo) at the Free University of Brussels (ULB/VUB) in Belgium. During that period, I was introduced to BioBrasil Project and contacted Kristel De Vleeschouwer, the Project Director, to work together in a study with which I concluded the master’s degree (2018). This study evaluated the importance of GHLTs for the seed dispersal of two fruiting trees with distinct seed size in South Bahia, Brazil. Then, in 2019, I began my doctorate studies in the course in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation at the State University of Santa Cruz (Brazil) where I continued pursuing my research objectives, teaming up with BioBrasil Project and Leonardo C. Oliveira, as my supervisor.