I am recruiting one PhD student and one postdoc, to work in my research group based in the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. I seek independent, highly motivated persons who are interested in studying biodiversity and ecology of subterranean ecosystems, their relation with surface and how they respond to anthropogenic pressures. Please contact me if you are interested.
Understanding the impact of human activities on subterranean biodiversity
The lack of light in the subterranean environment gives rise to a peculiar ecosystem composed of species with unique adaptations. This project investigates the impact of anthropogenic disturbance in subterranean ecosystems, providing the first global perspective of how human activities are affecting the largely unknown and extremely fragile subterranean biodiversity of our planet. The grant will allow the recruitment of one PhD student, one postdoc and purchasing of new equipment.
This project is funded by the VILLUM Young Investigator Programme:
First record of a Basidiobolus/Amphoromorpha fungus from a spider
First Laboulbeniales from harvestmen: the new genus Opilionomyces
Laboulbeniales are well known ectoparasites of insects. Among arachnids they were only known parasitizing mites. A new
genus of Laboulbeniales, with one species, Opilionomyces dicranolasmatis, is described for fungi parasitizing Dicranolasma harvestmen (Opiliones) collected in Turkey and Greece. The new genus is characterized by the uniseriate receptacle divided into two parts, below the perithecium as a pedicel and above as a row of cells adnate and following the dorsal side of perithecium. The three upper tiers of wall cells are equal in height but shorter than the lower tier. The new genus is accommodated in the subfamily Laboulbenioideae. Similarly to some other Laboulbeniales found on insects and millipedes, Opilionomyces shows site specificity, and we relate its restricted distribution on the pedipalps and chelicerae of the harvestmen to sexual transmission of the fungus. Although both Acari and Opiliones belong to the Arachnida subphylum within arthropods, the Laboulbeniales parasitizing the two orders show no morphological evidence of being closely related.
Reference: Santamaria S., Enghoff H., Gruber, J. & Reboleira A.S.P.S. (2017). First Laboulbeniales from harvestmen: the new genus Opilionomyces. Phytotaxa, 305 (4): 285–292. https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.305.4.4
Read about Sofia's outreach talk at the Vin & Videnskab initiative in the Natural History Museum of Denmark:
I was in the Museum of Science of University of Coimbra giving a seminar about Subterranean Biology. A kind invitation from my colleague Professor João Loureiro, organized by the Center for Functional Ecology, the UNESCO Chair in Biodiversity and Conservation for Sustainable Development and the Museum of Science of the University of Coimbra. Amazing to see so many old colleagues in the audience and talk with interesting scientists.
See more: University of Coimbra, Museum of Science and Centre for Functional Ecology.
Sofia was awarded a prestigious Young Investigator from the VILLUM FONDEN for her research on Subterranean Biodiversity in a beautiful ceremony in the Royal Library of Copenhagen.
Read about the researchers and their projects at:
Over recent years, intense field work in caves of Portugal has provided new data on the distribution of subterranean Iberian leiodid beetles. Speonemadus algarvensis sp. nov. is described from caves of southern Portugal. The new species is included in the Speonemadus Jeannel, 1922 escalerai-group (Cholevinae; Anemadini). All species of the S. escalerai-group are revised and S. breuili (Jeannel, 1922) is resurrected as a valid species. A key to identify the species of the S. escalerai-group is provided and the distinctive characters are illustrated. The distribution of all species of the group is mapped with new data together with biogeographic considerations.
beetles; subterranean; troglobiont; karst; caves; Speonemadus
Reference: Reboleira A.S.P.S., Fresneda J. & Salgado J.M. (2017). A new species of Speonemadus from Portugal with the revision of the escalerai-group (Coleoptera: Leiodidae). European Journal of Taxonomy, 261: 1-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2017.261
The Iberian genus Paraphaenops Jeannel, 1916 (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Trechini): Morphology, phylogeny and geographical distribution
The species Paraphaenops breuilianus (Jeannel, 1916) is an Iberian iconic cave beetle with “aphaenopsian” facies, monospecific until now. An extensive field work over the last years allowed the revision of this peculiar genus using the combinations of morphological, molecular and ecological approaches and led to the description of new taxa Paraphaenops fadriquei Ortuño and Faille sp. nov., Paraphaenops breuilianus espanoli Ortuño and Faille ssp. nov. and the full larval diagnosis of the third larval instar of the type species. The sequencing of two mitochondrial (cox1, rrnl + tRNA-Leu + nad1) and one nuclear (LSU) gene fragments evidenced a strong divergence for all markers considered between P. breuilianus and the new species P. fadriquei sp. nov. The strong genetic differences between the two taxa contrast singularly with the extreme morphological homogeneity of the genus. The ecological data recorded for Paraphaenops Jeannel, 1916 species show that they are stenotherms and stenohygrobionts, perfectly adapted to the subterranean environment, living at temperatures between 4.4 to 10° C with high relative humidity. The new localities and taxa enlarge the former distribution area from 72 to 5091 square kilometres sprinkled between twelve caves: six in the Mola de Catí (P. breuilianus breuilianus); three in the aforementioned karst region towards the south, crossing the geographical barrier “Barranc de Regatxol” (P. breuilianus espanoli ssp. nov.); and three, 60 km towards the west, in a different karst region: the “Sierra de la Dehesas” (P. fadriquei sp. nov.) This geographical range overlaps a geostructural area quoted as “junction area” between the Iberian System and the Catalan coastal Mountain range, an area up to 1000 metres above sea level.
Reference: Ortuño V.M., Sendra A., Reboleira A.S.P.S., Fadrique F. & Faille A. (2017). The Iberian genus Paraphaenops Jeannel, 1916 (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Trechini): morphology, phylogeny and geographical distribution. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 266: 71–88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcz.2016.10.009
"Biosfera" is a program of the Portuguese National Television about natural resources. In the last episode, Sofia talks about endemic species discovered in Portugal over the last decade, their importance and relevance for nature conservation, including a state-of-the-art perspective about their current knowledge.
Biosfera can be seen at: http://www.rtp.pt/play/p2841/e256854/biosfera
Dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude