Evolutionary Ecology

We are interested in understanding the evolutionary processes by which life diversified into the variety of traits observed nowadays. Our research lies in the intersection of ecology, development and evolutionary biology and approaches organisms' biology by explicitly considering evolutionary histories and their genetic, physiological and developmental determinants, as well as interactions with the environment, including other organisms. Our work involves genetics, phylogenetics, comparative and population studies and addresses life history evolution, behaviour, cooperation, physiology, predator-prey interactions, parasitism, and other interactions by means of a combination of both field, experimental and lab oriented disciplines.

We are interested in the "hows and whys" of organisms traits of any kind, in particular in their connection, or lack thereof, to fitness. We understand the goals of evolutionary biology as the study of patterns and processes shaping the different stages of the organisms' life histories and transitions between them, which are mediated by selective factors impinging on survival and other components of Darwinian fitness (e.g., mating and fertilization success, reproductive success, physiological performance, etc.). Such a broad definition encompasses classical problems addressed in biology. These issues are addressed through short-term, long-term and experimental work using several model organisms in different taxa (insects, amphibians, birds, mammals –including humans), according to the various individual's research profiles. This work is basic to understand the origin of evolutionary innovations and how selection pressures, being natural, sexual or kin, shape life history traits. We study both micro- and macroevolutionary patterns and processes, and we are interested in bridging the gap between them. An additional scientific mission is to investigate the mechanisms that generate and maintain genetic variation in natural populations in order to address consequential questions in ecology, evolution, conservation and behaviour. We also apply this knowledge to the conservation and management of biodiversity and natural resources. 

In conjunction with other research lines in our Institute (e.g., Ecology of plant-animal interactions) our research aims to provide a mainly empirical, but also potentially theoretical, anchor to other research lines in the EBD more concerned with aspects of ecology whose application in a real world should rely on a firmly grounded evolutionary framework (e.g., conservation of biodiversity, emerging diseases, biological invasions, wetland ecology).

Our specific objectives and study models are:

O1. Research related to evolutionary ecology, behavioural ecology and population dynamics in birds and its application to the conservation of endangered species

O2. Research on the processes that govern the evolution and ecological interactions in bats and its relation to conservation of biodiversity

O3. Studies on macro-physiological ranges of optimal thermal tolerances in amphibian communities of tropical and temperate areas, with the aim of determining their vulnerability to the impacts of global warming.

O4. Evolutionary Ecoloy and ant behaviour. Research on conceptual and methodological approaches in ecology, evolution and behaviour of ants (foraging strategies, evolution of reproduction strategies, invasive ants and interactions between plants and ants).

O5. Research on human behaviour, assessing  social adaptation problems (infants between 4 and 7 years old) in a family context.

Investigadores: Juan José Negro, Eduardo Aguilera, Elena Angulo, Xim Cerda, Ismael Galván, Francisco García, Laszlo Z Garamszegi, Carlos Ibáñez, Roger Jovani, Javier Juste , Jaime Potti, Tomás Redondo, Miguel Tejedo