Miocene diversification of mountain loaches

How ancient river systems, geological barriers and climatic changes in the Western Ghats influenced speciation of balitorid loaches Of the many endemic and evolutionarily distinct freshwater fish lineages of the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot, the mountain loach genus Bhavania comprises a biogeographically fascinating group. Its morphological similarities to the sucker-loaches of Indo-China and Sunda IslandsContinue reading “Miocene diversification of mountain loaches”

Recovering palaeo-distributions from rock art

Corroborating, refining, or refuting species’ modelled historical distributions can require innovation in datatypes and the synthesis of diverse kinds of information from sometimes unexpected sources. Ecological niche and species distribution models are tools currently applied in several fields of biology and other disciplines. These models use algorithms to correlate species presence data with environmental layersContinue reading “Recovering palaeo-distributions from rock art”

Satellite images to understand the diversity of minute insects

We use landscape data to understand spatial patterns of diversity of one of the smallest groups of insects: thrips. The study was performed in Reunion island, a small volcanic island of the Indian Ocean. The dramatic changes in elevation, abiotic conditions and anthropisation allowed us to explore multiple variables affecting diversity revealing why, despite moreContinue reading “Satellite images to understand the diversity of minute insects”

Dimensions of amphibian alpha diversity in the New World

Local biological diversity, also known as alpha diversity, has three different components: the number of species in a given area (taxonomic diversity), the number of distinct traits that these species have (functional diversity) and their evolutionary distinctiveness (phylogenetic diversity). The relationships among these components of diversity vary across geography reflecting the differences in eco-evolutionary processesContinue reading “Dimensions of amphibian alpha diversity in the New World”

The mystery of ‘low gear’ locomotion

Mouse-goats, ‘demons of the forest’, and other insular bovids have short and robust limbs. Why?  The ‘low gear’ hypothesis had never been tested until we decided to fill this gap with a quantitative investigation of the causal forces influencing the acquisition of this peculiar type of locomotion. Above: Skulls of a tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), aContinue reading “The mystery of ‘low gear’ locomotion”

Marooned on the Houtman Abrolhos

Within a global biodiversity hotspot, one of the highest latitude true coral reefs in the world, the oldest European structure in Australia, a rich and colourful marine environment, perhaps the most infamous murderous mutiny in marine history, intensive human destruction of habitat and still little known to the most of the world, the Houtman AbrolhosContinue reading “Marooned on the Houtman Abrolhos”

How did ant communities assemble on reservoir islands?

From curiosity to community assembly: how a birder’s frustration opened the door to a new journey of discovery about taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity of ants on islands. When I started my Ph.D. career and went to the Thousand Island Lake (TIL) to do fieldwork for the first time in 2014, I was attracted toContinue reading “How did ant communities assemble on reservoir islands?”

A deep dive on ecoregions

Ecoregions are central to global modeling of earth systems & development of conservation plans. There is great variability across taxonomic groups and regions of the world in how strongly ecoregions described community composition. Two years ago, a team of us published a study entitled ‘A global test of ecoregions’ (Smith et al., 2018). In thatContinue reading “A deep dive on ecoregions”

Different evolutionary routes to becoming diversity hotspots

How to tease apart the evolutionary mechanisms underlying global biodiversity patterns. A major question in evolution and ecology is why biodiversity is so unevenly distributed on Earth. This geographic pattern of global diversity has been extensively analyzed in plants and vertebrates, and has been suggested to be attributed to climatic and topographic variables. However, environmentalContinue reading “Different evolutionary routes to becoming diversity hotspots”

The forgotten giants of the Western Indian Ocean reefs

Giant clams have long fascinated adventurers and naturalists. These large shallow-water molluscs certainly are among the most colourful, conspicuous and emblematic species of the Indo-Pacific coral reefs. They have been exploited for thousands of years for their flesh and shell. Giant clam conservation is also an increasingly concerning issue because of the vulnerability of giantContinue reading “The forgotten giants of the Western Indian Ocean reefs”