The Team

Xavier Turon
Principal Investigator CEAB
Project coordinator

My research focuses on biology and ecology of benthic invertebrates, particularly ascidians, sponges and sea urchins. My taxonomic expertise is on ascidians, and they are my favourite beasts. Sponges and sea urchins came later, but earned their place in my heart, too.My main fields are population dynamics, reproductive biology, chemical ecology, larval biology and population genetics. I am fascinated by the way species and populations adapt to their environment, interact with each other, and are able to disperse from place to place. Thus, studying reproduction and population dynamics led me to analyze interactions and, particularly, the crucial role of allelochemicals in interspecific relationships. Larval biology followed naturally, as I realized that many of the processes that determine community dynamics occur at the first stages of development. The next step was to incorporate molecular tools to address simple, but as yet unanswered, questions: which species are you? where do you come from? who do you mate with? Recently, I have focused on molecular assessing of the diversity of benthic communities, in order to be able to study the hidden biodiversity, which is usually overlooked by conventional techniques.

Marta Pascual
Principal Investigator UB

I’m a professor at the Universitat de Barcelona since 2001. My research focusses on population genetic studies of marine and terrestrial species to understand the processes shaping their genetic variation. Since my PhD I studied colonizing species by analyzing their spatial and seasonal distribution, competition with other native species, possible routes of colonization, population genetic diversity and the effect of recombination on adaptation. Since the late 90s I focus primarily on the study of marine organisms (sponges, corals, echinoderms, crustaceans, ascidians, fish and turtles), analyzing with mtDNA and microsatellite loci their population diversity and the effect of oceanographic discontinuities on population connectivity in the Atlantic-Mediterranean transition. Recently I’m interested in applying massive sequencing in non-model organisms to study dispersal and local adaptation genome wide as well as adaptation at the transcriptomic level.

Enrique Macpherson
Senior Researcher

I am doctor in Biology since 1977 (University of Barcelona) and Research Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies in Blanes, Spain (CEAB-CSIC). I have been working on fish management, fish ecology, including population genetics, as well as taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of crustacean decapods. I have coordinated some projects related with fish conservation, mostly on settlement and mortality patterns in protected and unprotected areas. In the present project, I am working on genetic structure and adaptation to environmental differences, including the potential effects of climate changes.

Creu Palacín
Senior Researcher

My research interests range from meiofaunal communities dwelling in soft bottoms to littoral macrofaunal assemblies living on rocky benthic ecosystems.

Francesc Mestres
Senior Researcher

I’m doctor in Biology from the University of Barcelona since 1988. My thesis project focused on the colonization of America by Drosophila subobscura using classical genetic markers. This species was found in the New World in 1978 and hence my interest in colonizing species / invaders. In my postdoc at the University of California at Irvine, I continued studying this topic, and later I started using molecular markers (nucleotide sequences of nuclear genes). I have also dealt with the issue of climate change by looking at changes in the chromosomes of D. subobscura in time and whether they vary according to the global warming expectations. Although I still have research projects using this species, I changed 'air' environment by 'marine' environment. I continue studying similar evolutionary problems, but using the Mediterranean crab Liocarcinus depurator. We want to analyze its population distribution in relation to the barriers created by ocean currents and the effect of physical parameters of the sea on their genetic variation (mtDNA sequences).

Marc Rius
Lecturer, University of Southampton

My research broadly focuses on understanding the underlying ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that determine and maintain species ranges. My research group incorporates cutting-edge analytical and genetic techniques to conduct studies on community ecology, conservation biology, invasion biology, population genetics and taxonomy.

Carles Carreras
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research focuses on biology and conservation of marine vertebrates using genetic tools. I have worked almost all my research career on marine turtles, as these charismatic and endangered marine vertebrates have very complex life cycles and long migrations, thus raising interesting research and conservation issues. More recently, I have started to work on demersal fishes, as their generally short life cycle and larval dispersal mechanisms add a new dimension to my research. My main interests include population structuring, the connectivity and the adaptation of the study species to changing environments, specially linked to global warming but also at an evolutionary scale. I am fascinated on how organisms disperse in the marine environment and their populations are shaped in relation to their biological aspects, the biogeographical barriers of the area and local adaptation. My most recent interest include the use of genome-wide next-generation sequencing as a powerful tool to answer my research questions.

Alex Garcia
Postdoctoral Researcher

My PhD research focuses on biology, phylogeography and population genetics of two common Atlanto-Mediterranean starfish species. More specifically, I developed and used molecular tools to answer questions about connectivity and population structure. Besides, the study of population genetics led me to detect clonal lineages of sea stars and therefore to perform and investigate their patterns of longevity and the incidence of clonal reproduction along the species distribution.

Víctor Ordóñez
Postdoctoral Researcher

In my PhD thesis, I dealt with the problem of invasive ascidians and the role of human being in introducing these species around the world. In particular, I focused my study on introduced ascidians in the Western Mediterranean. At present, another topic of my research is the study of population structure and connectivity as well as the adaptation of fishes and sea urchins, linked to a global environmental changing scenario in the Mediterranean Sea.

Ferran Palero
Postdoctoral Researcher

My scientific career has focused on evolutionary genetics, covering from ancient divergences to contemporary population genetics. As a Beatriu de Pinos post-doctoral researcher at the CEAB, I focus on using molecular markers to study the evolution and define species limits in marine Crustacea (using phylogenetic methods) and characterizing the bacteria associated with marine species (using bioinformatics and metagenomics).

Rocío Pérez
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research at RSMAS (University of Miami, USA) focuses on adaptation of coral reef species of deep waters, and population genomics of the lionfish, an invasive species in the Caribbean. I am currently developing techniques of Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) for several coral and fish species. Within the ChallenGen Project I have been developing research on population genetics and phylogeography of several echinoderm species, including sea stars, brittle stars and sea urchins, across the Atlanto-Mediterranean arch. Additionally, during the last years I have used transcriptomic data to characterise gene expression profiles in sea urchin tissues, as well as stress responses to rapid temperature shifts.

Mari Carmen Pineda
Postdoctoral Researcher

I obtained a PhD in 2012 which investigated the biology, phylogeography and resilience of the introduced ascidian Styela plicata. Since 2013 I have been researching the effects of dredging-related pressures on sponges. The primary focus of my research is to understand the impacts of natural and human pressures on marine invertebrates and their symbionts, in order to contribute to effective environmental management that aids the protection of marine ecosystems.

Nuria Raventos
Postdoctoral Researcher

I am doctor in Marine Sciences from the University of Barcelona since 2004. My thesis project focused on the reproduction patterns and early life stages ecology of a Mediterranean littoral nesting fish (Symphodus roissali). My interest was to understand the relationship between spawner abundance, propagules, and subsequent recruitment, and between recruitment and year class strength. In my Post Doc at the University of Perpignan I continued with this topic, focused mainly in the dispersal capabilities of the fish larvae assemblage. I have used the planktonic larval duration as a proxy for the dispersal and the connectivity patterns between populations. To attain this objective, I had to deal with the otoliths of the fish species, so I have specialized in the analyses of the microstructure and the macrostructure of these ear bones. More recently I am studying the effects of climate change on Mediterranean fishes by looking at changes in the duration of the larval period along a gradient of temperature.

Owen Wangensteen
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include ecology of marine benthic communities, molecular approaches to population structure and dynamics and assessment of the effects of Global Change on marine ecosystems. My favorite taxonomic group is Echinoderms. In recent times, I have been involved in developing new analytical methods and bioinformatics pipelines for Metabarcoding (massive molecular identification of thousands of species per sample) in marine benthic communities.

Maria Casso
PhD Student

The aim of my PhD is to assess adaptation issues and fine-scale patterns of genetic variation of recently introduced ascidians in the Mediterranean, developing SNP markers based on Next-Generation Sequencing technologies.

Rebeca Genis
PhD Student

I graduated in Biological Sciences from the University of Valencia (2011-2015), where I acquired a strong interest in Marine Biology and Biodiversity studies and my will to continue working on these fields. Later, I decided to follow my academic training by studying an MSc in Biodiversity: Conservation and Evolution (2015/2016). During my final-year research projects, both as graduate and master’s student, I had the chance to start a research line on the biodiversity and evolution of Decapod crustaceans, especially within the Scyllaridae family. I just started my PhD project under the supervision of Dr. Romana Capaccioni (UVEG, Valencia) and Dr. Ferran Palero (CEAB, Blanes).

Magda Guardiola
PhD Student

The aim of my PhD thesis is the development of new molecular tools, based on Next-Generation Sequencing technologies, for the ecological assessment of marine benthic communities. I have focused on applying cutting-edge Metabarcoding techniques to study biodiversity patterns in the scarcely known realms of deep-sea invertebrate communities, a challenging task indeed!

Héctor Torrado
PhD Student

The aim of my PhD is to study the genomic differences associated to the high mortality during the recruitment stage of littoral fishes and the patterns of distribution of the genomic variability in marine organisms by using demersal fishes in the Western Mediterranean as a case study.

Marta Campos

I started in the ChalleGen Project during my MSC thesis, at the University of Barcelona. I focused in the cycle of the fissiparous starfish Coscinasterias tenuispina. Later, I moved to the Center of Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB) to study the clonality of the same species using microsatellites. During the last year of the project, I have been working at the CEAB as a lab technician, developing molecular techniques like extractions, amplification, sequenciation and other molecular tools. The main objective of my work is try to unravel the mysteries of marine invertebrates studied in this project.

Víctor Ojeda

In my Master Thesis I analyzed the spatial and temporal genetic variation of the populations of the marine crab Liocarcinus depurator across the three permanent or semipermanent oceanographic discontinuities found along the Western Mediterranean: Gibraltar Straits, Almeria-Oran Front and Ibiza Channel.

Borja Rives

In my MSc I analysed the importance of the main mediterranean oceanographic discontinuities on the genetic differentiation between populations. I reviewed all published data to identify species life history traits crucial in such differentiation. I presented the thesis and now we are working in the paper to publish it.

Juan Fernando Carrascal
MSc Student

I am a biologist graduated in the Javeriana University in Bogota (Colombia). Now I am doing my master degree in oceanography and management of marine ecosystems. My battle camp is based on the analysis of connectivity for conservation of Symphodus tinca based on network construction and evaluation of topology evolution and structure changes at the Mediterranean and the Black seas.

Bruna Serra
MSc Student

My MSc project is focused in the spatial genetic study in Mediterranean populations of the deep-sea crab Geryon longipes using mitochondrial gen COI. The main aim of this project is to obtain information on genetic structure and connectivity of different Western Mediterranean populations of this crab, which is considered a key species in the bathyal Mediterranean ecosystem.

Adrià Antich
Undergraduate Student

The aim of my Bachelor thesis is to compare two techniques of biodiversity assessment in hard-substrate benthic communities. Traditional morphology-based procedures and molecular methods (metabarcoding) have been used to determine the biodiversity of inevertebrates in two sciaphilic communities from the Cies Islands (Atlantic) and the Cabrera Archipelago (Mediterranean). We compared the performance of the two methods for qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the biodiversity present using as case studies three taxonomic groups: mollusks, arthropods and annelids.

Erik García
Undergraduate Student

The aim of my Bachelor thesis is to compare traditional morphology-based procedures and molecular methods (metabarcoding) for biodiversity assessment in hard-substrate benthic communities. We selected two shallow water, well-lit communities from the Cabrera Archipelago (Mediterranean). One community was dominated by the invasive seaweed Lophocladia lallemandii while the other community harboured a natural assemblage with native algae. We compared the performance of the two methods for qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the biodiversity present using as case studies three taxonomic groups: mollusks, arthropods and annelids.

Clàudia Lagares
Undergraduate Student

I’m in the third course of Biochemistry degree and my aim is to learn classical and molecular genetic techniques that I’ll need next year in my Bachelor thesis. Currently, I’m working in the chromosomal analysis of Drosophila subobscura from Madeira Is.

Raquel Madrenas
Undergraduate Student

The aim of my thesis is to study the current chromosomal polymorphism of Drosophila subobscura in Madeira Island. By crossing D. subobscura with chcu strain, this polymorphism will be analyzed and compared with that obtained by Prof. Antoni Prevosti in 1970. Consequently, we will analyze whether the frequencies of chromosomal inversions have changed over time and in the same way as predicted by global warming. A second aspect, based also on chromosomal polymorphism, will be to observe whether new colonizations have occurred in that island.

Marina Navarro
Undergraduate Student

In my thesis I am studing the settlement and succession of different species of invasive ascidians, such as Styela plicata and Clavelina oblonga, that grow at the Ebro Delta bibalves fisheries. I am interested in biology and ecology of marine organisms, particularly invertebrates and fish.

Sergio Pous
Undergraduate Student

The aim of my thesis is to analyse the variation of SNPs obtained by Genotyping-by-Sequencing when we have a mix of two different species without a reference genome in the same dataset. I will work with two different species of endemic fishes of the Mediterranean Symphodus tinca and S. ocellatus as case organisms. Furthermore, I will also to compare the performance of different methods for SNPs calling on non model organisms.

Marta Arjona
Former MSc Student

In my past research as an environmentalist, I studied the feeding ecology of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) using the stable isotope analysis techniques. My MSc Thesis was on population structure and genetic variability of a starfish species (Echinaster sepositus) using molecular tools (microsatellite analysis) to assess the connectivity and the spatiotemporal variability of this species.

Anna Barbanti
Former MSc Student

My MSc thesis was studying the population structure of the Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) of the Cayman Islands. In the study I used conservation genetics techniques to understand the relationship between the actual wild population of the Cayman Islands and a captive population belonging to the Cayman Turtle Farm, which has been reintroducing green turtles in the wild since the 1970s.

Cristina Català
Former MSc Student

I did the MSc Thesis with an endemic Land Snail from Catalunya (Xerocrassa montserratensis). We checked the phylogreography of this species using the mitochondrial gene marker Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI) and taking into account all known populations. This was the first genetic study carried out with this species. I am interested in evolutionary genetics and in genetics in general.

Julia Centelles
Former MSc Student

After finishing my B.Sc thesis on comparing Plesionika shrimps from the Iberian Peninsula and Taiwan, I carried out a revision of the morfological evolution within the Pandalidae family. The main objective of this revision is to identify key morphological characters (sinapomorphies) along the phylogeny of this interesting group.

Inma Ferrer
Former MSc Student

My research focused on the population genetics of the invasive Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis. I applied molecular tools (COI phylogeography) together with morphological data to imply the most likely routes of arrival between continental Europe and the United Kingdom. My research interests are population genetics applied to conservation, as well as biogeography, evolution and animal behavior.

Sílvia Frias
Former collaborator

I collaborated on the study of the local adaptation and connectivity of the Atlanto-Mediterranean populations of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula, performing samples DNA extraction and quantification. In this study, we want to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the individuals of populations from different geographic areas with different temperatures using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS). I am deeply interested in marine biodiversity, conservation, population genetics and molecular biology.

Eva Guerrero
Former MSc Student

During my MSc thesis I analyzed the size structure as well as the genetic variability at a spatial-temporal scale between cohorts of the starfish Echinaster sepositus. Size analysis was carried out in Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Girona, NW Mediterranean) every 6 months along 3 years. Furthermore, I studied the population structure at the same locality through genetic analysis with polymorphic microsatellite markers along the 3 years, and also used another population from Blanes (Girona, NW Mediterranean) for genetic structure comparisons.

Beatriz Lorente
Former MSc Student

My Master Thesis focused in the comparison of the genetic structure of an introduced ascidian species (Styela plicata) over space (9 populations from Atlanto-Mediterranean harbours spanning ca. 1000 Km of coastline) and time (comparing the same populations in 2009 and 2014). We expected to find a highly dynamic system as a result of bottlenecks, genetic drift, and recurrent introductions between harbours.

Rubhén Marrero
Former MSc Student

My master project analysed the genetic structure of the 2012 cohort of the common sea urchin at six different populations in the Iberian Mediterranean and adjacent Atlantic waters. We obtained COI sequences that added to a dataset previously obtained in the same localities in 2006 and 2008. Our results support a relationship between genetic differentiation and variation in the oceanographic discontinuities during the study period.

Clara Martín
Former Undergraduate Student

My project aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the reintroduction program of the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm by analysing individuals from the captive and the wild populations of this area using mitochondrial DNA markers. I also compared their genetic profile to those from other populations and foraging areas within the Caribbean in order to assess the extent of the influence of the release program.

Manuel Orobitg
Former MSc Student

In my MSc research, I was interested in comparing the new metabarcoding approach for characterizing marine benthic communities with the classical morphological information that can be obtained from the taxonomical analysis of the same samples. Metabarcoding will be a powerful tool in the near future, but it still has to be validated!

Sandra Ortiz
Former MSc Student

In my past research, I studied the reproductive biology of Arbacia lixula, an ecologically relevant sea urchin living in shallow waters all across the Mediterranean and subtropical Atlantic ocean. MSc Thesis was performed on population genetics and phylogeography of Ophiocomina nigra, an interesting Atlanto-Mediterranean ophiuroid. Studying biogeographic patterns at the molecular level allows us to interpret how historical events and different geographical and ecological factors are shaping the present marine communities and ecosystems.

Maria Rosselló
Former Undergraduate Student

My thesis was focused in the variation of Drosophila subobscura inversion chromosomal polymorphism and its relation with global warming. I analyzed the Font Groga population (Tibidabo, Barcelona), a site that has been studied in five consecutive years by different students to obtain a data time series.

Marc Vega
Former MSc Student

In my Master Thesis I studied the impact of misidentified samples on population genomics of non-model organisms. I analysed GBS data to evaluate the effect of the phylogenetic distance, the proportion of misidentified samples and the number of species on the number of SNPs identified among individuals.