Principal Investigator: Roger Vila Principal Investigator: Roger Vila


Research lines Research lines

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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Principal Investigator Principal Investigator

Current members Current members

Publications since 2011 Publications since 2011

Talavera, G.; and Vila, R. 2017. Discovery of mass migration and breeding of the painted lady butterfly Vanessa cardui in the Sub-Sahara: the Europe-Africa migration revisitedBiological Journal of the Linnean Society doi:10.1111/bij.12873

Schär, S.; Vila, R.; Petrović, A.; Tomanović, Z.; Pierce, N.E.; Nash, D.R. 2017. Molecular substitution rate increases with latitude in butterflies: evidence for a trans-glacial latitudinal layering of populations? Ecography [ePub ahead of print] DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02487

Pitteloud, C.; Arrigo, N.; Suchan, T.; Mastretta-Yanes, A.; Vila, R.; Dincă, V.; Hernández-Roldán, J.; Brockmann, E.; Chittaro, Y.; Kleckova, I.; Fumagalli, L.; Buerki, S.; Pellissier, L.; Alvarez, N. 2017. Climatic niche evolution is faster in sympatric than allopatric lineages of the butterfly genus Pyrgus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284(1852)

Marín, M.A.; Cadavid, I.C.; Valdés, L.; Álvarez, C.F.; Uribe, S.I.; Vila, R.; Pyrcz T.W. 2017. DNA Barcoding of an Assembly of Montane Andean Butterflies (Satyrinae): Geographical Scale and Identification Performance. Neotrop Entomol. doi: 10.1007/s13744-016-0481-z. [Epub ahead of print]

Habel, J.C.; Vila, R.; Vodă, R.; Husemann, M.; Schmitt, T.; and  Dapporto, L. 2017. Differentiation in the marbled white butterfly species complex driven by multiple evolutionary forces. Journal of Biogeography 44(2):433-445

Ongoing projects Ongoing projects

In the media In the media

10th September, 2017. La Vanguardia - Magazine. "En un mundo sin insectos". With comments of Xavier Bellés, Ignacio Ribera and Roger Vila.

4th July, 2017. betevé. "Deuwatts: Insectes, estrelles de l'evolució".  With the participation of Xavier Bellés and Roger Vila's group.

On the publication of the article "Asymmetric constraints on limits to species ranges influence consumer-resource richness over an environmental gradient", with the participation of Roger Vila:

On the publication of the article "Discovery of mass migration and breeding of the painted lady butterfly Vanessa cardui in the Sub-Sahara: the Europe–Africa migration revisited", with the participation of Roger Vila:

24th September, 2016. The Epoch Times (Rumania). "Un fluture este capabil să migreze 4.000 de kilometri". Article about Roger Vila's study.

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