Scientific Staff

Maria Isabel Loza Rivera, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher, Global Tree Conservation and Center for Tree Science

Content Detail

Isabel’s current research studies the dimensions of species rarity (geographic range size, habitat breadth, and local abundance), how these dimensions interact with each other, and what this implies for the conservation of threatened tree species.

Prior to her current Arboretum work with Global Tree Conservation and Center for Tree Science, Isabel’s research has focused on Neotropical forest—specifically with understanding the effects of historical, regional, and local factors on the diversity and spatial distribution of tree species. She aims to translate her research into models for better conservation practices.

Isabel also co-leads and supports restoration and conservation efforts in Mexico and Central America by coordinating long-monitoring restoration experiments and conservation workshops to build capacity in the region.  

Isabel is originally from Bolivia, where she earned her undergraduate degree. After working as a researcher at the Herbario Nacional de Bolivia and the Missouri Botanical Garden, she got several fellowships from the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Whitney R.Harris World Ecology Center in support of her pursuit of both her master’s and doctoral studies at the University of Missouri in Saint Louis. She has published her research as first author and co-author in journals such as Science, Nature, and Global Ecology and Biogeography, among several others

She has presented her work at numerous national and international conferences, ranging from the International Biogeography Society to the Ecological Society of America. She is also passionate about teaching and mentoring students and served as an advisor for undergraduate students in her home country of Bolivia. 

Projects/Labs at the Arboretum

  • Hoban’s Lab at the Center for Tree Science
  • Co-Leading the “Safeguarding Threatened Tropical Montane Cloud Forest” project at the Global Tree Conservation Program


PhD, Ecology Evolution and Systematics

University of Missouri-Saint Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden

MS, Ecology Evolution and Systematics

University of Missouri-Saint Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden


  • Research Associate, Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Research Associate, Herbario Nacional de Bolivia
  • Member, Ecological Society of America
  • Member, International Biogeography Society