My research is mainly question-driven, instead of model driven and I am interested primarily in understanding evolutionary principles. Therefore I am not confined to a particular type of organism, habitat or region. We aim at understanding patterns and processes mediating population biology from ecological to evolutionary scales. Topics include phylogeography, population dispersal/connectivity in population divergence and speciation. Biological models include marine and terrestrial molluscs, butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, using a variety of approaches, from molecular to experimental ecology and phylogenetic reconstruction.
We focus our attention in 3 vectors:
Island speciation. Atlantic oceanic archipelagos provide an excellent model system for studying gradients of species diversity and phylogenetic patterns over evolutionary time scales, given their similar geological age and the availability of paleoclimatic and bathymetric data. We have concentrated our efforts in a highly speciose genus, Conus, with more than 50 endemic species described from Cape Verde.
Past and present structure of small pelagics. We study the genetic patterns of leading-edge populations in the European anchovy, Engraulis encrasicolus, as part of an emerging effort to understand the role played by climatic fluctuations in shaping the geographical distributions and abundances of marine organisms. Moreover, the European anchovy provides an ideal system to investigate adaptive selection, as it is distributed throughout tropical, subtropical and cold-temperate coastal areas, facing contrasting environmental features, which implies an impressive tolerance to a broad range of temperatures and salinities.
Biogeography and phylogeography of Atlantic marine fish species. We have used a number of different fish species, intertidal teleosts, deepwater sharks, small and big pelagics to understand the shaping factors of the genetic makeup of present day diversity. We have published a much referenced paper on the Atlantic-Mediterranean divide, and the role of the straits of Gibraltar as a barrier to gene flow.
I have taught small graduate groups up to 100-person introductory phylogenetics for bioinformatics module course. Every Fall I teach a macroevolution course for upper level undergraduate students. I also teach Marine Biogeography and Evolution master course for forty-students.
A key component of teaching is mentoring students and postdocs. I have mentored undergraduate, graduate students and postdocs directly. The time dedicated to students means I will only have one, or at the most two students at a time. Some years I have no students at all.
CHECK OUR DEDICATED WEB PAGE: http://rcastilho.pt/R2C2/Main.html
Working Group on Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Mariculture (WGAGFM) meets in the Algarve, an event held by CCMAR.
The ICES training course in Genetics in support of fisheries and aquaculture management was a success!
Between the 6th and 18th of December 9 students of the Master in Marine Biology will defend their thesis.
Our researchers won the best presentation award with their paper "The enigma of Hippocampus guttulatus from Ria Formosa: genetic diversity and demographic bottleneck do not go hand in hand".
Our researcher Rita Castilho is part of the COST SEA-UNICORN project, where she will contribute to the study of forecasting the vulnerability of marine populations, communities and ecosystem services to environmental changes.
Our marine biologist Rui Peres dos Santos wants to answer these and other questions, so he goes up and down the steps of the Santa Maria Farol three times a week.
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