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Research lines

Macroevolutionary and macroecological processes

I enjoy exploring new hypotheses about the factors that influence diversification processes and small-scale and large-scale diversity patterns. In particular, I am mostly interested in the relevance of dispersal processes. With this aim, I try to integrate multiple layers of evidence to gain a better understanding of how these processes may have shaped diversity patterns. For instance, I find the cross-taxon approach very useful, where diversity patterns are interpreted in terms of taxon's attributes. Similarly, I am interested in phylogenetic scaling of diversity patterns, where spatial variation of genetic variants complements information at the species level, allowing novel inferences on the forces driving biodiversity.

NGS in diversity assessment

I think Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) offers great opportunities for diversity assessment. In particular, I am involved in the development and validation of mitochondrial mitogenomics (mitometagenomcis) to retrieving intra- and inter-specific diversity data from bulk DNA samples, thus enabling full assemblage sequencing with reduced budget and time costs. See blog post. I am also interested in using NGS to identify trophic relationships (see BES project below).

Aquatic ecology

I have been interested in the spatiotemporal dynamics of aquatic communities, mostly amphibians, and their habitats since I did my PhD about the ecology of Mediterranean temporary ponds. I have also worked on applied aquatic ecology and conservation policy, focusing on the identification of reference conditions for the implementation of the Eureopean Water Framework Directive for the European Commission.

Funded projects (present)

Conservation of Atlantic pollination services and control of the invasive species Vespa velutina [Atlantic-POSitiVE]

Funded by European Union (Interreg), May 2019 - May 2022. PI at BiBiCI-USC: Carola Gómez-Rodríguez

Vespa velutina is a major predator of bees and other pollinators. It was accidentally introduced into Europe and it poses a threat to biodiversity. The main objective of this project is to contribute to the preservation of pollination services through the development of integrated approaches for the control of V. velutina. At BiBiCI-USC, we will build dynamic models of the invasive potential of this species, taking into account both its ecological requirements and dispersal ability. This will allow updating risk areas on a year-to-year basis, taking into account habitat suitability and the proximity to previously invaded areas.

Spatial patterns of replacement of haplotypes and species in beetle and plant communities: neutral processes vs. biotic interactions and climate.

Funded by the British Ecological Society (BES), UK. PI: Carola Gómez-Rodríguez

I am using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) methods, and metabarcoding in particular, to re-construct the assemblage of host-plants on which leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) have been feeding. The first challenge is to identify plant communities from DNA contained in beetle guts, in order to identify the trophic interactions. The second challenge is to incorporate the trophic layer to the niche-dispersal debate, which focuses on understanding whether ecological requirements or dispersal processes are predominant in structuring current diversity patterns.

Multi-hierarchical macroecology: the variation of biological assemblages in space and time at genetic and species levels.

Funded by the Ministry of Economy (Spain). PI: Andrés Baselga (USC)

Multi-hierarchical macroecology investigates the patterns of variation of entire assemblages at multiple levels between haplotypes and species. The central hypothesis 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 are using beetles and terrestrial molluscs as biological models.

Miscellanea

Interested in some action? Here is the lab, where we sequence full biological assemblages "super-fast"

Mangueando Metamorficos Gel