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Madalena Simas Branco

Madalena Simas Branco


Member type
Former Members
CIBIO-InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal

At present, my research interests relate to the analysis of the patterns of populations' genetic structure of several rocky intertidal invertebrates from the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean region. A major goal is to investigate how life-history strategies (presence/absence of a state in the life cycle high dispersal ability) interact with the environment (ocean currents, oceanographic fronts, geographic barriers and geomorphological histories) and to what extent these interactions determine the interpopulation relationships, size of distributional areas and, consequently, the evolutionary path of species.


The rocky intertidal is occupied by a variety of small invertebrates about which taxonomic information is, vague or even nonexistent. In this context I am interested in the contribution of molecular tools to clarify taxonomic issues. Misidentifications, due to shallow or inaccurate taxonomies, often result in the establishment of erroneous distributional areas. To what extent do these errors affect our perception of biodiversity in some regions? On the other hand, the investigation of patterns of genetic structure of populations of small invertebrates with different dispersal abilities, contributes to a better understanding of biogeographical histories.


The general patterns of the biogeographical history of the Mediterranean are well known. However, a closer look at the literature reveals two major biases:

1) most studies have targeted the European coast of the western Mediterranean basin, and

2) most of these works focuses on fish species, which usually have large dispersal capabilities.


The ongoing investigation ("MED HIST: A slow motion perspective of the biogeographical history of the Mediterranean", financed by FCT, Ref. PTDC/MAR/104169/2008) on the phylogeny and phylogeography of the genus Stenosoma Leach, 1814, with special emphasis on the African coast has revealed new species (Xavier et al. 2011, Zookeys) as well as biogeographic patterns almost unknown (Xavier et al. 2011, Biol. J. Linn. Soc.).

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