Juan Carlos Illera (Oviedo University) | June 15, 2018 - 16h00 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão


Oceanic islands are excellent systems for allowing biologists to test evolutionary hypotheses due to their relative simplicity of habitats, naturally replicated study design, and high levels of endemic taxa with conspicuous variation in form, colour and behaviour. Over the last two decades Macaronesia has proved an ideal system for evolutionary biologists who seek to unravel how biodiversity arises and disappears. With the present talk I will evaluate the contribution of the study of Macaronesian birds to our understanding of how and why species occurs and change over time. I will focus my attention on both extant and extinct Canarian taxa, and describe how research on these species has filled gaps in our understanding of avian speciation and extinction. I will finish my talk introducing some challenging evolutionary/ecological questions for the next years, which could be tackled using birds like study models in Macaronesia.


Juan Carlos Illera is a biologist interested in understanding how species proliferate and change over time. His work uses molecular tools and fieldwork approaches to investigate evolutionary and ecological patterns and processes at both the individual and population level. Much of this work has focused on island birds (using extinct and extant taxa) where he investigate the causes and consequences of adaptive (and non-adaptive) genetic variation in relation to understand the mechanisms driving avian radiations. At the species level this involves extensive field based observational studies (including measurements of morphological and acoustics traits) aligned with comprehensive tissue sampling within isolated endemic avian populations. At the population level this has involved sampling across island archipelagos to assess spatio-temporal pattern of genetic variation and understand the role of different neutral and deterministic evolutionary forces in shaping genomic variation. He is also interested to investigate the ecological and evolutionary role of avian pathogens in island and mountain systems because of the high susceptibility of native and endemic birds to introduced pathogens.



[Host: Ana Perera, Applied Phylogenetics]


Image credits: Juan Carlos Illera