Carranza Lab
Animal Biodiversity and Evolution Programme
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF)
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Island biogeography and evolution


The main goal of this research line is to take advantage of the excellent experimental conditions of the island systems to try to understand how biodiversity is generated and maintained. Island systems offer great opportunities to study evolution, and are especially attractive environments for several reasons: 1.- they present discrete geographical entities within defined oceanic boundaries; 2.- gene flow between individual islands is reduced by oceanic barriers; 3.- their often small geographical size has made the cataloguing of flora and fauna easier than continental systems; 4.- despite their small geographical size they can contain a diversity of habitats and; 5.- they are often geologically dynamic with historical and contemporary volcanic and erosional activity. The combination of these factors, allow islands to harbour high levels of endemism in a relatively simple and well-known scenario. During the approximately 10 years that we have been working on islands we have been mainly working on the reptiles of the the Cape Verde archipelago and the Canary Islands. By studying these two archipelagos in depth, we discovered that some lineages (geckos and skinks) are capable of long-distance transmarine colonizations. For instance, the skinks of the genus Mabuya not only have colonized the Cape Verde islands once but also have crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice. The geckos of the genus Tarentola have colonized the Canary Islands at least two times and, together with some species of the genus Hemidactylus, have crossed the Atlantic Ocean at least once. At present, together with our Italian collaborators Mauro Fasola, Roberto Sindaco and Fabio Pupin, among others, we are using molecular phylogenies, population genetics, morphological analysis, GIS to study the origin and in-situ diversification of the reptiles of the Scotra Archipelago, to identify conservation priority areas in Socotra and to revise the taxonomy of the reptiles of this archipelago.

Ongoing work

  • Taxonomic revision of the endemic reptiles from the Cape Verde Islands.
  • Defining conservation priority areas in the Cape Verde archipelago combining ecogeographical information with molecular markers
  • Systematics, Biogeography and Evolution of the reptiles of the Socotra Archipelago




  • Roberto Sindaco (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Torino, Italy)
  • Mauro Fasola (Dipartamento di Biologia Animale, Università di Pavia, Italy)
  • Fabio Pupin (Museo di Scieze, Trento, Italy)
  • Nick Arnold (The Natural History Museum, London, UK)
  • James Harris (CIBIO, Portugal)
  • Jose Brito (CIBIO, Portugal)
  • Aurelien Miralles (Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle)
  • Philippe Geniez (Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France)
  • Jose Antonio Mateo (Centro de Recuperación del Lagarto Gigante de La Gomera, La Gomera, Spain)