panama_petitDNA barcoding techniques have revolutionized taxonomy and its applications. A short nucleotide sequence can be used as a species identifier, in an analogous manner as commercial barcodes define products. This technique allows the fast processing of a large quantity of simples, the rapid dissemination of information and the easy access to this information by non-specialist. In this project we propose to extend the use of DNA barcodes to the inventorying and richness estimation of megadiverse groups in tropical regions. The study focuses in three arthropod groups with diverse life cycles (spiders, water beetles and membracid planthoppers) in 5 localities in a transect along the Panama Isthmus. This setting will be used to catalog and estimate specific richness, complementarity and genetic connectedness of the selected regions. The characterization of biodiversity will improve protection and management of these regions and will facilitate sustainable development of natural areas of Panama. This project will provide a better knowledge about Neotropical diversity and the geological and environmental variables that shape its distribution
ligia_coupleIn collaboration with terrestrial isopod specialist Dr. Stefano Taiti (Italy), I have been working in the evolution of terrestriality in the Hawaiian species of the isopod genus Ligia. More recently, we have extended our analysis to include all the representatives of this world-wide distributed genus, which has revealed extremely interesting biogeographic and evolutionary patterns
rugathodesSpecies distributions in oceanic islands or in underground ecosystems may show some striking features. In islands, closely related taxa with largely overlapping distributions are frequently reported, while some cave-dwelling species are widespread across several cave localities that are not connected. In collaboration with Dr. Pedro Oromí (Canary Islands, Spain), I am conducting research on the phylogeographic patterns of some of the aforementioned cases that occur in the Canary Islands and their lava tubes
deinopisAlthough DNA sequences have been proven to be extremely useful to resolve phylogenetic relationships among spiders, the current knowledge on the spider genome is scarce and constrains available molecular markers to just a handful of genes. We aim to improve this situation through the generation of a wealth of genomic data for spiders. Central to this effort is the construction of several cDNA libraries for targeted spider taxa and the production of hundred of ESTs (expressed sequences tags) from these libraries for discovering new genes amenable to genomic PCR amplification. At the same time, we are using high-throughput sequencing techniques to obtain sequences for current standard markers in spider phylogenetics. This research line is part of the ongoing Assembling the Tree of Life: Phylogeny of Spiders, an ambitious five-year project whose main goal is to reconstruct the interfamilial relationships of the Order Araneae. A multidisciplinary team of 21 researchers in 14 institutions and four countries are carrying out this research project with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (Visit for further information).