Carranza Lab
Animal Biodiversity and Evolution Programme
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF)
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Phylogeny and biogeography of Mediterranean reptiles and amphibians


Without fossil record, the geographical history of taxa can only be established by indirect means. One approach for terrestrial groups is to combine estimates of genetic population differentiation with knowledge of datable marine barriers (both present and past). If we can demonstrate the differentiation is approximately time-related, as it often is with DNA sequences, this provides a potent means of testing hypotheses about the historical biogeography of clades that span the barriers concerned. In this project that we have been working on during the past 10 years, we use these methods of inference, combining molecular estimates of differentiation and knowledge of marine barriers, to investigate the history of reptile and amphibian groups that occur around the westernmost Mediterranean basin. This region, considered one of the 25 biodiversity hot-spots of the planet, is ideal for such a project as a number of well-dated marine barriers have occurred in it and the reptile and amphibian fauna is rich and well known, with many clades spanning current and previous barriers and showing different degrees of taxonomic differentiation. Our main objetives are: 1.- infer the geographical history and evolution of the reptiles and amphibians around the westernmost Mediterranean basin; 2.- characterize and compare the molecular evolutionary rates of reptiles and amphibians; 3.- identify using phylogenies the possible existence of Pliocene fossil islands in the area of study. Finally, the results we obtain are being used to test the current taxonomy of the groups concerned. This project was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Sciencie and Education with project number: CGL2005-06876/BOS. In 2009, a PhD student from Portugal (Catarina Rato) funded by FCT and co-supervised with James Harris from CIBIO has started a project on the phylogeographic patterns and genetic diversity of selected herpetofauna from the Mediterranean Basin.

Ongoing work related to this project

  • Phylogeny and biogeography of the genus Salamandra
  • Speciation and evolution of the lacertid lizards of the genus Iberolacerta
  • Phylogeny of Bufo bufo


  • Nick Arnold (The Natural History Museum, London, UK)
  • Juan M. Pleguezuelos (Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidad de Granada, Spain)
  • Oscar Arribas (Barcelona, Spain)
  • James Harris (CIBIO, Portugal)
  • Soumia Fahd (Departement de Biologie, Faculte des Sciences, Universite Abdelmalek Essaadi, Tetouan, Morocco)
  • 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)
  • David Donaire (Jerez de la Frontera, Spain)
  • Daniel Escoriza (Girona, Spain)
  • Ed Wade (Middlesex University, V.C.D. Cat Hill, Barnet, Hertfordshire, London, UK)
  • Serge Bogaerts (The Nederlands)