Many physical, biologial and social systems can be represented as networks. Thinking of real systems in this way can often lead to novel and useful insights. These mathematical abstractions help us to visualize complex systems, to find useful measures of complexity and eventually develop computational models of reality. Evolution of Networks, led by CSIC Tenured Scientist Sergi Valverde, studies natural and artificial networks in the search for universal evolutionary principles. We are interested in the role played by emergence, convergence and environmental fluctuations in the origin of evolutionary innovations, and how the pattern and process of evolution differs when traits are learned rather than transmitted genetically.  The group brings expertise in complex systems, complex networks, and theoretical ecology. An unique approach of our lab is the complex networks perspective of the evolution of culture, which we have pionnered (see our review paper here). We also develop systematic ways to recollect and analyse the rich fossil record of innovations.”

Web page: Valverde Lab


Principal Investigator

Sergi Valverde Castillo

Valverde Castillo, Sergi
CSIC Tenured Scientist
Evolution of Networks lab

Current members


Postdoctoral Researcher
Evolution of Networks

Ongoing projects


Duran-Nebreda S, Bentley RA, Vidiella B, Spiridonov A, Eldredge N, O’Brien, MJ, Valverde S. 2024. On the multiscale dynamics of punctuated evolution. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2024.05.003

O’Brien MJ, Valverde S, Duran‐Nebreda S, Vidiella B, Bentley RA. 2023. Punctuated equilibrium at 50: Anything there for evolutionary anthropology? Yes; definitely. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews. DOI:10.1002/evan.22009

Duran-Nebreda S, Valverde S. 2023. Composition, structure and robustness of Lichen guilds. Scientific Reports, 13(1):3295. DOI:10.1038/s41598-023-30357-w

Bentley RA, Horne B, Borycz J, Carrignon S, Shteynberg G, Vidiella B, Valverde S, O’Brien MJ. 2023. Cultural Evolution, Disinformation, and Social Division. International Society for Adaptive Behavior. DOI:10.1177/10597123231186432

Bentley R.A, Valverde S, Borycz J, Vidiella B, Horne BD, Duran-Nebreda S, O’Brien MJ. 2023. Is disruption decreasing, or is it accelerating? Advances in Complex Systems, 26(02):1-9. DOI:10.1142/S0219525923500066

Vidiella B, Carrignon S, Bentley RA, O’Brien MJ, Valverde S. 2022. A cultural evolutionary theory that explains both gradual and punctuated change. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 19(196). DOI:10.1098/rsif.2022.0570

Galiana N, Lurgi M, Bastazini VAG, Bosch J, Cagnolo L, Cazelles K, Claramunt-López B, Emer C, Fortin MJ, Grass I, Hernández-Castellano C, Jauker F, Leroux SJ, McCann K, McLeod AM, Montoya D, Mulder C, Osorio-Canadas S, Reverté S, Rodrigo A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Traveset A, Valverde S, Vázquez DP, Wood SA, Gravel D, Roslin T, Thuiller W, Montoya JM. 2022. Ecological network complexity scales with area. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 6(3):307-314. DOI:10.1038/s41559-021-01644-4

Duran-Nebreda S, O’Brien MJ, Bentley RA, Valverde S. 2022. Dilution of expertise in the rise and fall of collective innovation. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(1):365. DOI:10.1057/s41599-022-01380-5

Vidiella B, Fontich E, Valverde S, Sardanyés J. 2021. Habitat loss causes long extinction transients in small trophic chains. Theoretical Ecology, 14(4):641-661. DOI:10.1007/s12080-021-00509-7

Valverde S. 2021. The long and winding road: Accidents and tinkering in software standardization. Mètode, 26(11):91-97. DOI:10.7203/metode.11.16112

Bentley RA, Carrignon S, Ruck DJ, Valverde S, O’Brien MJ. 2021. Neutral models are a tool, not a syndrome. Nature Human Behaviour, 5(7):807-808. DOI:10.1038/s41562-021-01149-x

Valverde S, Vidiella B, Montañez R, Fraile A, Sacristán S, García-Arenal F. 2020. Coexistence of nestedness and modularity in host–pathogen infection networks. Nature Ecology and Evolution,4(4):568-577. DOI:10.1038/s41559-020-1130-9

Solé R, Valverde S. 2020. Evolving complexity: how tinkering shapes cells, software and ecological networks. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375(1796). DOI:10.1098/rstb.2019.0325

Solé R, Valverde S. 2020. Evolving complexity: how tinkering shapes cells, software and ecological networks. The Royal Society.  doi: 10.1098/rstb.2019.0325

Ferrando-Bernal M, Morcillo-Suarez C, De-Dios T, Gelabert P, Civit S, Díaz-Carvajal A, Ollich-Castanyer I, Allentoft ME, Valverde S, Lalueza-Fox C. 2020. Mapping co-ancestry connections between the genome of a Medieval individual and modern Europeans. Scientific Reports, 10(1):6843. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-64007-2

Valverde S, Piñero J, Corominas-Murtra B, Montoya J, Joppa L, Solé R. 2018. The architecture of mutualistic networks as an evolutionary spandrel. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2(1):94-99. DOI:10.1038/s41559-017-0383-4

Corominas-Murtra B, Seoane LF, Solé R. 2018. Zipf’s Law, unbounded complexity and open-ended evolution. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 15(149):20180395. DOI:10.1098/rsif.2018.0395

Valverde S. 2017. Breakdown of Modularity in Complex Networks. Frontiers in Physiology, 8:1-8. DOI:10.3389/fphys.2017.00497

Aguilar D, Pinart M, Koppelman GH, Saeys Y, Nawijn MC, Postma DS, Akdis M, Auffray C, Ballereau S, Benet M, García-Aymerich J, González JR, Guerra S, Keil T, Kogevinas M, Lambrecht B, Lemonnier N, Melen E, Sunyer J, Valenta R, Valverde S, Wickman M, Bousquet J, Oliva B, Antó JM. 2017. Computational analysis of multimorbidity between asthma, eczema and rhinitis. PLoS ONE, 12(6):1-26. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0179125

Valverde S. 2016. Major transitions in information technology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1701). DOI:10.1098/rstb.2015.0450

Valverde S, Sole RV. 2015. Punctuated equilibrium in the large-scale evolution of programming languages. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12(107). DOI:10.1098/rsif.2015.0249

Valverde S, Solé RV. 2015. A cultural diffusion model for the rise and fall of programming languages. Human Biology, 87(3):224-234. DOI:10.13110/humanbiology.87.3.0224

Valverde S, Ohse S, Turalska M, West BJ, Garcia-Ojalvo J. 2015. Structural determinants of criticality in biological networks. Frontiers in Physiology, 6(may):1-9. DOI:10.3389/fphys.2015.00127

Weitz JS, Poisot T, Meyer JR, Flores CO, Valverde S, Sullivan MB, Hochberg ME. 2013. Phage-bacteria infection networks. Trends in Microbiology, 21(2):82-91. DOI:10.1016/j.tim.2012.11.003