My research focuses on several biodiversity-related disciplines as taxonomy, biogeography, phylogenetics and macroecology.
Regarding systematics, my taxonomic skills range several beetle families (Coleoptera). I am especially interested in leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), and my taxonomic papers were devoted to both adult and larval stages. Most of my taxonomic studies dealt with the Iberian fauna, but I have also addressed Palaearctic revisions of genus Chaetocnema and the light-coloured Neocrepidodera species groups. I am also interested in many other beetle taxa, as the Iberian blind edaphic Staphylinidae (genera Mayetia and Hesperotyphlus) and the new world Zopheridae. As a result of my taxonomic work, I have described 22 species new to science.
Regarding macroecological questions, I am mostly interested in the integration of beta diversity patterns in the central debate about large-scale patterns of biodiversity. Compared to the variation in the number of species, the variation in community composition (beta diversity) provides different information (i.e. two communities could have exactly the same number of species but completely different composition). Therefore, the assessment of such species turnover patterns will provide new evidence, allowing new approaches to biogeographical and macroecological questions.
A further development in my research line is the addition of the phylogenetic layer of information to the aforementioned analyses of macroecological patterns. We are developing a novel approach, multi-hierarchical macroecology, aiming to contribute to our understanding of the processes underlying biological diversity.
All these research lines are interconnected, but one way to classify my research lines could be this one:
Methods for the assessment of biotic dissimilarity (beta diversity): Papers
Phylogenetics, evolution and biodiversity: Papers
Biogeography and macroecology: Papers
Species distribution modelling and global change: Papers
Assessment of biodiversity inventory processes: Papers
Beetle taxonomy: Papers
Faunistics and biodiversity inventory: Papers
In September 2020 the International Biogeography Society organised a series of events cellebrating the International Humboldt Day. Our lab organised a symposium on distance-decay models for the analysis of beta diversity. The four talks are available online. In the first talk Carola Gómez-Rodríguez presents several studies that use distance-decay models to infer how major ecological processes, and historical dispersal limitation in particular, impact assemblage variation at large scales. Thereafter, Sara Martínez-Santalla introduces a new significance test for negative-exponential and power-law distance-decay models. The third talk, by Ramiro Martín-Devasa, explores the use of the Gompertz function for modelling distance-decay relationships, and the conditions under which this function outperforms the negative-exponetial and power-law models. Finally, Andrés Baselga talks about the anisotropy of distance-decay patterns and how it varies across biological groups and continents.
Title: Conservation of Atlantic pollination services and control of the invasive species Vespa velutina
Funding Institution: European Union (Interreg)
Summary: Vespa velutina is a major predator of bees and other pollinators. It was accidentally introduced into Europe and it poses a threat to biodiversity. At present it can be found in the majority of Atlantic regions. This shows that the environmental conditions of the area are favourable for its biological success. The main objective of this project is to contribute to the preservation of pollination services through the development of integrated approaches forthe control of V. velutina.
People at BiBiCI: Carola Gómez-Rodríguez (PI), and Andrés Baselga.
Title: Multi-hierarchical macroecology: the variation of biological assemblages in space and time at genetic and species levels
Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant CGL2016-76637-P
Summary: Multi-hierarchical macroecology investigates the patterns of variation of entire assemblages at multiple hierarchical levels between haplotypes and species. The central hypothesis of multi-hierarchical macroecology is that the effect of neutral processes (including neutral mutation, dispersal limitation, birth and death of lineages) is uniform across hierarchical levels, while the effect of non-neutral processes differs among levels. This is based on the fact that the variation in haplotype composition of assemblages provides a benchmark of ecological neutrality against which to compare the variation of assemblages at the species level. This framework, previously applied to the analysis of patterns of distance decay of similarity, can now be extended to alternative macroecological patterns. In this project, we will use beetles and terrestrial molluscs as biological models.
People: Andrés Baselga (PI), Manuel Aldegunde, José Castillejo, Adrián Castro-Insua, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Andrea Freijeiro and Javier Iglesias.
Title: The spatiotemporal continuum of biodiversity: a novel multi-hierarchical approach to discern neutral and non-neutral drivers
Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant CGL2013-43350-P
Summary: This project will investigate the causes of large scale patterns of biodiversity by combining novel data and novel methods from molecular phylogeny and macroecology. DNA-based biodiversity research will be used to explore the patterns emerging from the simultaneous assessment of macroecological regularities at multiple levels of the phylogenetic hierarchy, from genotypes to lineages and species (multi-hierarchical approach). This multi-hierarchical framework has been developed by this research team in a previous project (CGL2009-10111), and opens exciting opportunities in our search for the causes of biodiversity. Central to this proposal is the fact that neutral and niche models do actually predict mutually excluding patterns when the information emerging from the simultaneous analysis of assemblage variation at multiple levels is integrated into a single analysis (from genotype variation to species variation). Specifically, a fractal geometry of lineages’ distributions leading to the self-similarity of macroecological patterns across hierarchical levels (genes, lineages, species) is only predicted under neutral dynamics. The empirical biological system will be the Iberian slug, snail and leaf beetle assemblages. The extensive sequencing of full assemblages (ca. 6,000 specimens) would allow assessing the generality of patterns emerging from the multi-hierarchical approach. Such patterns will be assessed with new mathematical tools that will have to be developed in order to enhance the inference of the processes causing biodiversity. The overarching objective is thus to unveil the drivers of biodiversity and its spatiotemporal patterns, discerning between dispersal-stochastic processes (neutral paradigm) and environmentally-driven processes (niche paradigm) linked to abiotic (i.e. climatic) and biotic (i.e. trophic) factors.
People: Andrés Baselga (PI), José Castillejo, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Javier Iglesias and Francisco Novoa.
Title: Integrative analysis of biodiversity: molecular systematics and macroecology of Mediterranean insects
Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant CGL2009-10111
Summary: This study will assess biodiversity patterns in Mediterranean insects, focusing on (i) a species-rich group of Coleoptera (Iberian leaf beetles, subfamilies Cassidinae and Cryptocephalinae) and (ii) a group of Hymenoptera characteristic of Mediterranean forests (Cynipidae: Cynipini and Synergini). Our key biological question is to assess the relevance of neutral and ecologically mechanistic processes as drivers of biodiversity at several levels (i.e. speciation, beta diversity), by integrating diverse information from molecular phylogenetics to macroecology. Three main aspects address the degree to which morphological diagnostic characters and DNA variation reflect actual species limits; how genetic and species spatial turnover are determined by various abiotic factors (testing between neutral and mechanistic hypotheses); and how evolutionary traits impact diversity patterns by integrating phylogenetic and macroecological information.
People: Andrés Baselga (PI), Eulalia Eiroa, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Isabel Izquierdo, José Luis Nieves, Francisco Novoa, Mercedes París, Graham Stone and Alfried Vogler.