Research lines


We enjoy exploring new hypotheses about the factors that influence biological diversity. In particular, we are mostly interested in assessing the relative relevance of dispersal and ecological niche processes. With this aim, we try to integrate multiple layers of evidence to gain a better understanding of how these processes may have shaped diversity patterns. For instance, we find the cross-taxon approach very useful, where differences in diversity patterns are interpreted in terms of taxon's attributes. Similarly, we are interested in genealogical/phylogenetic scaling of diversity patterns, where spatial variation of genetic variants complements information at the species level, allowing novel inferences on the forces driving biodiversity.

DNA-based diversity assessment

Both traditional Sanger or Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) offer great opportunities for diversity assessment. In particular, sequencing mitochondrial markers for full biological communities is the basis of the aforementioned genealogical scaling of diversity patterns. In turn, mitochondrial mitogenomics (mitometagenomcis) to retrieving intra- and inter-specific diversity data from bulk DNA samples enables full assemblage sequencing with reduced budget and time costs. See blog post.

Methods for beta diversity analysis

We work on the development of novel methods for the assessment of community dissimilarity. These include the partitioning framework to separate the replacement and nestedness components of dissimilarity for pair-wise and multiple-site indices, or modelling procedures for the analysis of distance-decay patterns. All the methods we develop are eventually implemented in the R package betapart.

Funded projects (current)

Macro-Beetle (2021-2025)

Title: Beetles as a model to analyse the effect of ecological niche and dispersal limitation on macroecological patterns

Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant PID2020-112935GB-I00

Visual abstract

Summary: To improve our understanding of global diversity patterns it is necessary (i) to assess the relative contribution of environmental constraint and dispersal limitation in defining species distributions across different biological systems, and (ii) to identify which features of biological systems make one or the other type dominate. In this proposal, we will use beetle assemblages as study system to address the aforementioned central ecological questions. Their outstanding diversity allows assessing macroecological patterns for multiple beetle groups (comparative biogeography), and to systematically sample and sequence local communities, again for multiple taxonomic groups, producing joint estimates of how biological diversity varies at multiple genealogical levels from genetic variants to species. This type of data enhance novel approaches aiming to infer the processes controlling species ranges and thus communities, through phylogenetic scaling of macroecological patterns (multi-hierarchical macroecology). We aim to take advantage of the two aforementioned approaches to produce novel, unique predictions to assess the relative importance of niche constraints and dispersal limitation in determining macroecological patterns of beetles at different spatial scales.

Team: Andrés Baselga (co-PI), Carola Gómez-Rodríguez (co-PI), Marcos González, Javier Iglesias, Ramiro Martín-Devasa, Sara Martínez-Santalla, Victoria Formoso-Freire, M. Olalla Lorenzo-Carballa



Funded projects (previous)

Atlantic-POSitiVE (2019-2022)

Title: Conservation of Atlantic pollination services and control of the invasive species Vespa velutina

Funding Institution: European Union (Interreg)

Summary: Vespa velutina is a major predator of bees and other pollinators. It was accidentally introduced in Europe and it poses a threat to biodiversity. At present it can be found in the majority of Atlantic regions. This shows that the environmental conditions of the area are favourable for its biological success. The main objective of this project is to contribute to the preservation of pollination services through the development of integrated approaches for the control of V. velutina. More info here.

Team at USC: Xulio Maside, Ana Isabel García Arias, Carolina Bartolomé Husson, Maria Amparo Ferreira Golpe, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Andrés Baselga, Victoria Formoso-Freire.



Multi-MacroEco (2017-2020)

Title: Multi-hierarchical macroecology: the variation of biological assemblages in space and time at genetic and species levels

Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant CGL2016-76637-P

Team: Andrés Baselga (PI), Manuel Aldegunde, José Castillejo, Adrián Castro-Insua, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Andrea Freijeiro, and Javier Iglesias.


Haplo-trophic (2017-2018)

Title: Spatial patterns of replacement of haplotypes and species in beetle and plant communities: neutral processes vs. biotic interactions and climate

Funding Institution: British Ecological Society (BES), UK

Team: Carola Gómez-Rodríguez (PI).


Divercontinuum (2014-2016)

Title: The spatiotemporal continuum of biodiversity: a novel multi-hierarchical approach to discern neutral and non-neutral drivers

Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant CGL2013-43350-P

Team: Andrés Baselga (PI), José Castillejo, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Javier Iglesias, and Francisco Novoa.


Integrabio (2010-2013)

Title: Integrative analysis of biodiversity: molecular systematics and macroecology of Mediterranean insects

Funding Institution: Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; grant CGL2009-10111

Team: Andrés Baselga (PI), Eulalia Eiroa, Carola Gómez-Rodríguez, Isabel Izquierdo, José Luis Nieves, Francisco Novoa, Mercedes París, Graham Stone, and Alfried Vogler.