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 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
Fatuk Kuak hosi Timor Lorosa'e
Tropical lapiaz in Fatubessi karst massif, Maubisse province, Timor-Leste. Photo: Ana Sofia Reboleira
Sofia was in Timor-Leste (East-Timor) exploring caves and their biodiversity, with a team of Portuguese and Spanish speleologists.
During the stay in East-Timor's capital, Sofia gave an invited talk presenting this project and signed a cooperation protocol for cave studies between the Speleology Group of Aveiro University (NEUA, Portugal) and the National University of Timor Leste (UNTL).
We were kindly received by the Ambassador of Portugal, Manuel Gonçalves de Jesus, at the Embassy in Díli, where we have had the opportunity to discuss the importance of subterranean water resources for the development of Timor-Leste and about strategies for the protection of aquifers.
(left) Signing the cooperation protocol for cave studies in Timor, with the Dean of the National University of Timor. Photo: Geiza Marques d'Oliveira. (right) At the Embassy of Portugal in Timor-Leste with the with the Portuguese Ambassador in Díli. Photo: Cátia Santos.
We have explored several karst areas of the Island, included in the provinces of Maubisse, Baucau, Lautém and Viqueque. High temperature and high humidity induces serious limitations to the field work, inside and outside the caves, because this combination is in the limit of the human survival.
Caves prospection on the tropical forest in the Nino Konis Santana National Park. Photo: Ana Sofia Reboleira
Sofia pointing out a freshwater crocodile masked in the margin of Irasiquero River, the drainage of the huge Ira Lalaro polje.
Photo: Maria Eugénia Gomez.
Intense fieldwork in caves of Timor-Leste, during our expedition, revealed a surprisingly rich hidden biodiversity and many kilometres of previously unexplored caves were mapped.
Sofia providing scale for cave specimens found bellow Tutuala's forest in the Eastern part of the Island. Photo: Manuel Soares.
Strongly convicted that education is the fundamental basis of conservation, our project has also focus on implementing local Speleology. Therefore, we offered specific trainning to more than 20 future Timorese speleologists from the UNTL.
Cave mapping and 'single rope technique' training for Timorese speleologists of Juventude Hadomi Natureza in Fatubessi karst massif.
Photo: Ana Sofia Reboleira
A strong part of the project includes outreach activities and giving several conferences in elementary schools on the importance of caves and their protection to the future Timorese generations.
Outreach activities at elementary school in remote areas of Timor-Leste. Photo: Ana Sofia Reboleira
We are deeply grateful to our Timorese friends from Juventude Hadomi Natureza, whom accompanied us throughout the country, to Universidade Nacional de Timor Lorosa'e for providing logistic support and funding for students, to Vodacabo that generously lent us a 4x4 vehicle during all expedition, to Fundação Oriente for kindly providing us accommodation and access to all facilities in Díli and all the support from the Portuguese Embassy in Timor-Leste.
Members of the expedition received the honor "salema" from the Dean of the National University of Timor (UNTL). Photo: Geiza Marques d'Oliveira
Dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude