Principal Investigator: Roger Vila Principal Investigator: Roger Vila


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We are a young lab with a passion for butterflies and creative science. What we like the most is exploring, both intellectually and in the field. We study butterfly diversity patterns in time and space, and their evolutionary causes. Our final goal is to answer general questions regarding chromosomal evolution, the limits between species, and the link between phylogeography and ecology. 

Characterization of butterfly diversity with DNA barcoding 

We are leading the implementation of DNA barcoding studies for butterflies, including the DNA barcoding of Romania (which has been the first country with all butterfly species barcoded), Iberian Peninsula and Italy. We have recently started the challenging project of obtaining a library of DNA barcodes for all the species of butterflies in Europe. Our main goals are to test the efficiency of the method at large scale, and to develop tools based on barcoding technology in order to characterize diversity and phylogeography.

Uncovering of cryptic butterfly biodiversity in Europe

Potential cryptic species are highlighted as a result of DNA barcoding studies. We are using a wide array of techniques (e.g. nuclear and mitochondrial markers, geometric and linear morphometry, analysis of karyotype, ecological niche modeling) to deeply analyze each case, and to shed light on the origin and status of highly diverged taxa.

Ecological factors determining butterfly biogeography 

We aim at unravelling the historical biogeography of some groups of butterflies. To do so, we combine phylogenetic methods with ecological niche modeling. We are mostly interested in understanding what ecological factors lie behind current and past distributions. A project has started this year thanks to financing from the EU, Catalan government and National Geographic on the migratory routes of the cosmopolitan butterfly Vanessa cardui.

Chromosomal evolution in Polyommatus and Leptidea.

Some butterfly groups have remarkably unstable chromosomes and display unusual patterns in their karyotypes. They constitute an ideal group to study chromosomal evolution in action. We are focusing our studies on understanding the origin and evolutionary consequences of karyotype instability in Polyommatus and Leptidea.


Lab website: Butterfly Diversity & Evolution Lab

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