Urmas Saarma (University of Tartu, Estonia) | December 2, 2014 - 14h30 | CIBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão




This talk will focus three main topics:

1. The brown bear (Ursus arctos) has served as one of the main mammalian model species for understanding large-scale phylogeographic processes related to past climate changes. I will discuss our new results on brown bear phylogeography, based on analysis of complete mitochondrial genomes. Our aims were to investigate the matrilineal phylogeographical structure, ancient migration patterns and lineage coalescence times in a large and continuous population of brown bears in Eurasia, and relate it with the colonization of North America.

2. As a result of extensive habitat fragmentation and high hunting pressure, gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations have declined dramatically in Europe during recent centuries. Small and fragmented populations have persisted, but often only in close contact with increasing numbers of humans and dogs, thus exposing wolf populations to hybridization. I will provide an overview of wolf-dog hybridization in Europe.

3. Tapeworms Echinococcus multilocularis (EM) and E. granulosus (EG) are important parasites of mammals causing life-threatening zoonoses in humans. Recently the number of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), the main host for EM, has increased and they have started to visit urban areas, where the main hosts for EG - domestic dogs – are present in high numbers. Due to their close contact with humans, dogs and urban foxes represent a considerable risk of echinococcosis transmission to humans. I will discuss our recent results on Echinococcus parasites in urban environments in Estonia.


Urmas Saarma is working as a senior scientist at the Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Estonia. He received his PhD in molecular biology (studies on catalytic functions of ribosomes) in 1997 at the University of Tartu, Estonia. In year 2000 he started with projects related to mammalian evolutionary ecology and zoonotic diseases.


[Host: Raquel Godinho, Conservation Genetics and Wildlife Management]


Image credits: httpwww.hdwallpaperscool.combear-hd-wallpapers (brown bear); http://www.fws.gov (gray wolf); httpwww.pinterest.compin245586985905446297 (red fox)