We study evolutionary processes using beetles, the world’s most diverse group of animals. 250 MY of evolutionary history and a vast ecological and morphological variation enables us to use them to address virtually every problem in evolutionary biology. We use water and cave beetles to address different questions centred on the origin and distribution of biodiversity. Our current focus is the study of the causes and consequences of range expansions, and the evolution of adaptations to new habitats and ecologic conditions: the subterranean life in cave beetles and hypersaline waters in different lineages of aquatic beetles.
Origin of widespread species of European lotic water beetles
Most species have narrow geographic ranges, but many groups also include some widespread species. In most cases why and how these widespread species have reached their current ranges is unknown. A particularly intriguing case is that of species with continental-scale distributions despite belonging to lineages with generally poor dispersal abilities. We investigate the origin of these species, to understand how they have reached their current distributions.
Evolution of the complex male genitalia in Hydraenidae
The extraordinary complexity of the male genitalia of some arthropods has always intrigued evolutionary biologists. Using a comparative phylogenetic and morphometric approach we study the selective forces shaping the evolution of male genitalia in different groups of beetles.
Evolution of the tolerance to salinity
Life in water with salt concentrations many times that of seawater requires extreme physiological adaptations, which only few organisms have managed to acquire. In a project in collaboration with the Aquatic Ecology group of the University of Murcia we study the evolution of these adaptations to determine the mechanisms involved and how they originated.
Evolution of subterranean beetles
Cave animals have fascinated evolutionary biologists since their discovery in the early XIX Century. The origin of the morphological modifications of subterranean species - loss of pigments and eyes, elongation of body and appendages, modifications of the life cycle and physiology among others - is still controversial, specially in that many of these changes have independently evolved in many unrelated lineages, sometimes to an astonishing degree of similarity. We study the evolution of troglomorphy in different lineages of beetles in the Mediterranean area.
Lab website: Beetle Evolution Lab
Villastrigo, A.; Ribera, I.; Manuel, M.; Millán, A.; Fery, H. 2017 A new classification of the tribe Hygrotini Portevin, 1929 (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae: Hydroporinae) Zootaxa. Vol 4317, No 3
Villastrigo, A.; Fery, H.; Manuel, M.; Millán, A.; Ribera, I. 2017 Evolution of salinity tolerance in the diving beetle tribe Hygrotini (Coleoptera, Dytiscidae) Zoologica Scripta. In press
18th September 2017. Quo. "Cuando conseguimos el primer ADN de neandertales fue como pisar la luna". Interview with Carles Lalueza-Fox, the principal investigator of the Paleogenomics Lab of the IBE.2017