Research Topics
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Research Topics

Systematics and Evolution
One of our on-going research topics is related with the study of both micro and macroevolutionary patterns of diversification, particularly in Linus and Helianthemum across their distribution range and the evolution of reproductive systems and functional traits. We are applying diverse phylogenetic reconstruction methodologies on standard nuclear and plastidial DNA sequences and also on more resolute markers obtained by means of next generation sequencing techniques.
Rafael G. Albaladejo, Sara Martín-Hernanz, Abelardo Aparicio, Juan Arroyo, Violeta Simón-Porcar.
Granted Projects
Diversificación del género Helianthemum (Cistaceae): un análisis macro y microevolutivo (CGL2014-52459-P)
Análisis de la historia evolutiva del género Helianthemum y de su radiación Macaronésica (CGL2017-82465-P)
Community-level demographic responses to climate change
One of our research lines focuses on studying how species and entire communities have responded to past climate changes in order to forecast how they will be impacted by ongoing global warming. We use as study system oak communities (Quercus sp.) from California (USA) and employ high-throughput sequencing techniques to obtain extensive genomic data from a representative number of species of this region and infer whether different taxa have experienced similar or distinct demographic trajectories over time. We also address analogous questions using as study system grasshopper communities from the Pyrenees (Spain, France and Andorra), in this case comparing multiple species inhabiting different elevational ranges (alpine, montane, and Mediterranean) and exhibiting contrasting functional (body size, dispersal capacity) and ecological (climatic niche width, thermal tolerance, host plant specialization, etc.) traits.
Joaquín Ortego.
Granted Projects
Integrating genomic data and species distribution modelling to infer the demographic history of oak (Quercus sp.) communities and forecast their responses to global change (Fundación BBVA).
Species- and community-level demographic responses to past and future climate changes: the role of taxon-specific ecological and phenotypic traits (CGL2017-83433-P).
Plant reproductive biology
We are interested in explaining the variety of sexual reproduction in plants, including those affecting directly to reproductive functions (stamens, styles), as well as indirectly (perianth), and more ecological (e.g., pollination, dispersal) and genetic (incompatibility systems, population genetic structure) aspects. We combine field based ecological methods and lab modern techniques, including the use of molecular markers. These studies address microevolutionary, population level, perspectives where we investigate the relationship between male and female fitness differences of individual plants under contrasted ecological conditions. We also approach a macroevolutionary perspective, to explore in what extent speciation is linked to different reproductive strategies. Thus, in our work we also address some taxonomic questions from a biosystematic point of view incorporating phylogenetic/phylogeographic methods. Current case studies include Narcissus, Linum, Myrtus, Sonchus, Helianthemum, Erica, Lithodora and Pistacia.
Juan Arroyo, Rocío Santos-Gally, Violeta Simón-Porcar, Rocío Pérez-Barrales, Juan P. González-Varo, José Antonio Mejías, Abelardo Aparicio, Rafael G. Albaladejo.
Granted Projects
Macro and microevoltuion of heterostyly and related stylar polymorphisms. (CGL2009-12565)..
Characterization of incompatibility in Sonchus pustulatus and S. fragilis (Asteraceae). (CGL2010-16512).
Conservation biology of the fragmented Mediterranean forest
We are studying the effects of habitat fragmentation on the diversity of Mediterranean forest at a multilevel approach: genetic, population, community and landscape. The case study involves Western Andalusia as geographic area and four common ‘key stone’ woody species with different mating and dispersal systems (Cistus salvifolius L., Myrtus communis L., Pistacia lentiscus L., and Quercus coccifera L.). Thus, we can explore the importance of ecological and biological factors in gene flow among populations. At the community level we are analysing several diversity components of the Mediterranean forest (species richness, taxonomic singularity, number of endemisms, etc.) and other functional aspects. We are also interested in understanding how different global change drivers affect plant-pollinator interactions and bee population dynamics. Lastly, we are exploring patterns of pollen and seed gene flow and the maternal and paternal genetic contribution in different microhabitats and landscape configurations.
Abelardo Aparicio, Rafael G. Albaladejo, Juan P. González-Varo, Juan Arroyo, Clara Parejo Farnés, Ignasi Bartomeus, Joaquín Ortego.
Granted Projects
Linking seed rain and gene rain: spatio-temporal effects of fragmentation of frugivory. (CGL2011-23721).
Pollinator responses to global change and its implications for ecosystem functioning (BeeFun). Project EU FP7 MC-CIG.
Historical biogeography and biodiversity; climate change impacts on Mediterranean plants
Most of our labs are located in a region (Andalusia) that is well-known as a hotspot for plant biodiversity within the Mediterranean. We are interested in explaining patterns of biodiversity by ecological and historical processes. In particular we are studying the floristic, community and population level. To do this, we have selected singular lineages, endemic and relict, which are particularly appropriate to unravel mechanisms driving biodiversity in the region. We are also testing whether natural patchiness of sandstone areas, which is overall higher in the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar, has a negative effect on the edaphic (sandstone) specialist flora, both at the population (genetic diversity) and woody community (endemic richness) levels. We use macroecological, comparative, phylogenetic, phylogeographical, and ecological monitoring methods to this end. Some case studies are the Betic-Rifan hotspot, Pyrenean high mountain flora, Sierra Nevada flora, Laurus nobilis, Pistacia lentiscus, Rhododendron ponticum, Narcissus spp., Drosophyllum lusitanicum, Erica spp. As a particularly interesting process, we are studying the consequences of climate change on Mediterranean plants at multiple scales, from individuals to populations, species and communities; the time scales range from ecological (decades, years) to geological (i.e. million years), and spatial scales from field plots to entire continents. Our large-scale analyses focus on the consequences of climate changes occurred in the Mediterranean Basin over the last million years. We combine information from the fossil record, genetics and species distribution modelling hindcasts to assess climate-driven range dynamics and extinction processes in Mediterranean woody plants.
Juan Arroyo, María Begoña García, José Antonio Mejías, Abelardo Aparicio, Rafael G. Albaladejo, Francisco Rodríguez-Sánchez, Rocío Santos-Gally, Joaquín Ortego.
Granted Projects
Past, present, and future of pre-Mediterranean plants, from the success of macchia to the demise of relics in a global change scenario. (P08-RNM-5280).
Disentangling history and evolution of the major Iberian biodiversity hotspot, a multiscalar approach in the Sierra Nevada National Park. (OAPN 296/2011).
Assessing the role, and monitoring the effects, of land use and climatic changes on mountain plant diversity – RECAMBIO. (OAPN 430/2011).
Geographical barrier, habitat fragmentation and vulnerability of endemics: Biodiversity patterns of the Mediterranean heathland across the Strait of Gibraltar. (CGL2011-28759).
Plant population biology
We are interested in understanding the processes that govern the performance, dynamics and adaptive variation of plant populations. Our research usually integrates knowledge obtained from field studies and demographic surveys, greenhouse and common garden experiments, and molecular data including classical neutral markers, nucleotide variation in known genes and genome-whole sequences. From a more demographic perspective, we are exploring the effects of abiotic and biotic factors as selective forces that shape among- and within-population differentiation in various traits, such as longevity, age at first reproduction, fecundity, resource allocation, life-cycle phenology and fitness. For that purpose, we are using a variety of plants occurring over a wide range and habitats and with a wide range of life forms. Vital rates in different populations are assembled in matrix models to evaluate which factors and processes are associated with particular ecological conditions, and have high impact on population growth rate and life history. Bayesian modelling is also used to evaluate the response of plant populations to rapid environmental changes, such as those provoked by increasing warming worldwide. Plant species currently being studied are Arabidopsis thaliana, Cardamine hirsuta, Pyrus bourgaeana, Plantago coronopus, and Borderea chouardii.
Xavier Picó, María Begoña García.
Granted Projects
Monitoring network for plant species and habitats of European community interest in Aragón. (LIFE+12 NAT/ES/000180).
Phenotypic characterization and reaction norms of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions by means of transplant experiments between contrasting environments (REACT). (CGL2012-33220/BOS).
Looking into the evolutionary black box: processes and mechanisms accounting for adaptive evolution in Arabidopsis thaliana (BLACKBOX). (CGL2016-77720-P).
Research group granted by the Andalusian Regional Government plan for R+D+i (PAIDI RNM-210).