Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics Group
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We are back!

We are back from holidays and ready to work hard again!

During this summer many things have happened and we have very good news to share with you!

- We are very happy to receive Vicente García-Navas in the CONSEVOL group. Vicente is joining the group as a postdoctoral researcher and he will work on wolf population genetics in collaboration with Carles Vila, and phenotypic divergence in Iberian grasshoppers in cooperation with Joaquin Ortego.

- We also welcome back to Álvaro Dugo-Cota and Miguel Camacho-Sánchez from their stays in Mexico and United States, respectively. Álvaro has enjoyed a four-month stay in Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and he have been working in collaboration with Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyer. Meanwhile, Miguel has spent two months in the National Museum of Natural History located in Washington DC.

- Finally, Irene Quintanilla is our new laboratory technician and she will work in collaboration with Jennifer Leonard applying genetic tools to study the demography of small mammals.

Welcome to all! :-)



Two new PhD fellowships available!

There are two more PhD fellowships available now in our lab!

The first PhD position is part of the project: "Diversidad, divergencia y adaptación en micromamíferos de alta montaña", funded by the Spanish Government (CGL2014-58793-P).

Sundaland is the tropical region in the southeast of Asia including the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java. This region is a recognized hotspot of biodiversity, and it was this biodiversity that inspired Alfred Russel Wallace to independently arrive at the theory of speciation by natural selection. We propose to characterize the effects of natural selection in a variety of small mammals in this region using both tools available to Wallace, such as morphology and distribution, along with cutting edge genomics.

In this project we are studying the biogeography and evolution of the forest associated fauna of southeast Asia using forest dependent vertebrates, primarily small mammals. The project relies on several different kinds of data including bioinformatic, GIS, genetic (including population genetic, phylogeography, genomics and ancient DNA), morphology and field work. The project is collaborative and includes PhD students and researchers in Spain and the US.

The PhD student is expected to include some genomics in their study, as well as at least one other type of data. The project involves fieldwork on the Sunda Shelf (most likely Malaysia or Indonesia). The student is expected to lead their portion of the research. The student is expected, with the support of the collaboration and the group, to produce science at an international standard to be published in international scientific journals. The student is expected to actively participate as a member of the group. The student will have the opportunity to engage in short international stays (3 months), and that is strongly encouraged.

Evaluation of applicants will be initially carried out by government agencies. All applications should be submitted via (instructions in Spanish) this webpage. Candidates must also send documentation to Jennifer Leonard before June 29nd ( For further information contact Jennifer Leonard.

The second PhD position is part of the Severo Ochoa's Program and it is open to work in the line of "Molecular Ecology and Genetics" at the Estación Biológica de Doñana (the position is also funded by the Spanish Government, SEV-2012-0262-04).

For further information do not hesitate to contact Carles Vilà.



A new PhD position is available in our group!

We are seeking for highly motivated PhD candidates to apply for a FPI fellowship associated with the recently granted project “Patterns and processes of genomic divergence along the speciation continuum in two recent evolutionary radiations: a multidisciplinary and integrative approach” (DIVERGEN). The project will integrate genomic and phenotypic data for taxonomic delimitation in two species complexes of montane orthoptera and analyze the evolutionary and demographic trajectories of the different taxa in relation with landscape heterogeneity and past environmental changes. These questions will be addressed combining genomic data obtained using high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques, morphometric geometrics and species distribution modelling, among other analytical approaches.

The PhD will be developed under the supervision of Joaquín Ortego and Anna Papadopoulou at Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC, Seville, Spain), a reference center for ecological and evolutionary research. For more information about this center and the project visit: EBD-CSIC, Joaquin Ortego's webpage and the project's site.

Though the official call will open in the next days, the deadline for submitting applications is expected to be around the end of June. The candidates should fulfill the requirements of the call (to hold a master degree and have been admitted in a PhD program from a Spanish university). A background in molecular techniques, bioinformatics, population genetics, phylogenetics and/or biogeography will be viewed positively.

Candidates should send their CV and a letter of motivation stating your interest in DIVERGEN to Joaquin Ortego (



New paper!

Dugo-Cota A, Castroviejo-Fisher S, Vilà C, Gonzalez-Voyer A (2015) A test of the integrated evolutionary speed hypothesis in a Neotropical amphibian radiation. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24: 804–813. |



New paper!

Sanchez-Donoso I, Morales-Rodriguez PA, Puigcerver M, Caballero de la Calle JR, Vilà C, Rodríguez-Teijeiro JD. Postcopulatory sexual selection favors fertilization success of restocking hybrid quails over native Common quails (Coturnix coturnix). Journal of Ornithology, doi: 10.1007/s10336-015-1242-1. |



New member in the group!

We are very happy to receive Santiago Montero-Mendietain the CONSEVOL group.

Santi is joining the group as a PhD student under the supervision of Carles Vilà. His work will be linked to the project "A stroll with amphibians along the path of speciation: from micro to macro evolutionary processes”.

Welcome, Santi!



New paper!

Ortego J, Gugger PF, Sork VL (2015) Climatically stable landscapes predict patterns of genetic structure and admixture in the Californian canyon live oak. Journal of Biogeography 42: 328-338. |



Divulgative article in Excelenciencia about Jennifer Leonard's work on the wolves of Beringia and the domestication of dogs. (in Spanish)



Carles Vilà will give a seminar next friday February 13th at 12:00 in the National Museum of Natural History (Madrid, Spain)

The seminar is titled "Intrinsic and extrinsic factors affecting the rate of evolution: stories of dogs and frogs"

Abstract: The origin of biodiversity has always fascinated naturalists. Since Darwin, we tend to see natural selection as responsible for this diversity. However, selection needs molecular diversity upon which to act. What is the origin ofthis molecular diversity? Using dogs as a model system we investigated some of the mechanisms that have been suggestedto produce different rates of morphological change indogs and wolves. These differences may have arisen, in part, as a result of the demographic changes and relaxation of selective forces suffered by the domestic species. We can expect these processes to equally affectnatural systems. By analyzing the diversity of a family of Neotropical frogs we investigated environmental factors that may be associated with changes in the rate of molecular evolution. We alsostudied whether these extrinsic factors may be associated with the rate of diversification in this family. These two model systems offer unique perspectives to better understand some of the mechanisms contributing raw genetic diversity for selection to act upon.

You can follow it online.



New paper!

Brandariz-Fontes C*, Camacho-Sanchez M*, Vilà C, Vega-Pla JL, Rico C, Leonard JA (2015) Effect of the enzyme and PCR conditions on the quality of high-throughput DNA sequencing results. Scientific Reports 5: Article 8056. (*Equal contribution) Link



Two new papers!

This paper has been selected for the cover of the journal  

Muñoz-Fuentes V, Marcet-Ortega M, Alkorta-Aranburu G, Linde Forsberg C, Morrell JM, Manzano-Piedras E, Söderberg A, Daniel K, Villalba A, Toth A, Di Rienzo A, Rogi I, Vilà C (2015) Strong artificial selection in domestic mammals did not result in an increased recombination rate. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32(2): 510-523. Supporting information

And this one has been recently published on-line:

Shafer ABA, Wolf JBW, Alves PC, Bergström L, Bruford MW, Brännström I, Colling G, Dalén L, De Meester L, Ekblom R, Fawcett KD, Fior S, Hajibabaei M, Hill JA, Hoezel AR, Hoglund J, Jensen EL, Krause J, Kristensen TN, Krützen M, McKay JK, Norman AJ, Ogden R, Österling EM, Ouborg NJ, Piccolo J, Popovic D, Primmer CR, Reed FA, Roumet M, Salmona J, Schenekar T, Schwartz MK, Segelbacher G, Senn H, Thaulow J, Valtonen M, Veale A, Vergeer P, Vijay N, Vilà C, Weissensteiner M, Wennerström L, Wheat CW, Zielinski P (2014) Genomics and the challenging translation into conservation practice. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi: Appendix S1



New paper!

Leonard JA, den Tex R-J, Hawkins MTR, Muñoz-Fuentes V, Thorington R, Maldonado JE (2015) Phylogeography of vertebrates on the Sunda Shelf: a multi-species comparison. Journal of Biogeography, doi:10.1111/jbi.12465.



Álvaro Dugo-Cota will give a talk tomorrow in the University of Seville

The talk (in Spanish) will be about part of the work done during his PhD project, as part of the seminars of the PhD program on Integrative Biology of the University of Seville.

The tittle of the talk is: "Patrones de diversificación y divergencia fenotípica en anfibios neotropicales"

You are very welcome to assist.

When and where: Tomorrow, December 10th, at 10:00, in the Salón de Grados, Edificio Rojo Facultad de Biología, Avenida de la Reina Mercedes s/n, 41012, Seville, Spain.



Participation in "Jornadas LEM 2014"

Miguel Camacho, José Manuel Lucas and Joaquín Ortego will present part of their work in "Jornadas LEM" tomorrow.

"Jornadas LEM" is a meeting celebrated every year in the EBD, where PhD students, post-docs and researchers present the work they have been or are doing in the Molecular Ecology Lab (LEM) of the EBD.

The meeting will be TOMORROW (14/12/04) in the Sala de Juntas of the EBD from 9:30 to 12:45. You are very welcome to assist and hear about some of the exciting projects going on in LEM!

Jornadas LEM 2014 program


New publication!

Muñoz-Fuentes V, Marcet-Ortega M, Alkorta-Aranburu G, Linde Forsberg C, Morrell JM, Manzano-Piedras E, Söderberg A, Daniel K, Villalba A, Toth A, Di Rienzo A, Roig I, Vilà C (2014) Strong artificial selection in domestic mammals did not result in an increased recombination rate. Molecular Biology and Evolution, doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu322. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


There is a new Ph.D in the city!

We are happy to tell that Ines Sanchez-Donoso defended her PhD Thesis last October 29th in the University of Barcelona, so we have a new Ph.D in the group!

Her PhD Thesis is called "Impact of game restocking on common quail populations" and you can find it here. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyer was awarded an Assistant Professor position in the UNAM!

We are very happy to announce that Alejandro was awarded an Assistant Professor position in the Animal Behaviour Department of the Ecology Institute from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Congratulations, Alejandro! We wish you all the best!



More papers! Joaquín Ortego publishes 3 new papers! and Carles Vilà 3 more!


Ortego J, Gugger PF, Sork VL (2014) Climatically stable landscapes predict patterns of genetic structure and admixture in the Californian canyon live oak. Journal of Biogeography. doi:10.1111/jbi.12419.

Ortego J, Bonal R, Muñoz A, Aparicio JM (2014) Extensive pollen immigration and no evidence of disrupted mating patterns or reproduction in a highly fragmented holm oak stand. Journal of Plant Ecology 7, 384-395.

Aguirre MP, Cordero PJ, Ortego J (2014) Isolation and characterization of polymorphic microsatellites in the specialist grasshopper Ramburiella hispanica (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Conservation Genetics Resources 6, 723-724.

Hoban S, Arntzen JA, Bruford MW, Godoy JA, Hoelzel AR, Segelbacher G, Vilà C, Bertorelle G (2014) Comparative evaluation of potential indicators and temporal sampling protocols for monitoring genetic erosion. Evolutionary Applications, doi: 10.1111/eva.12197. Link

Baranowska Körberg I, Sundström E, Meadows JRS, Rosengren Pielberg G, Gustafson U, Hedhammar A, Karlsson EK, Seddon J, Söderberg A, Vilà C, Zhang X, Akesson M, Lindblad-Toh K, Andersson G, Andersson L (2014) A simple repeat polymorphism in the MITF-M promoter is a key regulator of white spotting in dogs. PLoS ONE 9: e104363. Link

Ramirez O, Olalde I, Berglund J, Lorente-Galdos B, Hernandez-Rodriguez J, Quilez J, Webster MT, Wayne RK, Lalueza-Fox C, Vilà C, Marques-Bonet T (2014) Analysis of structural diversity in wolf-like canids reveals post-domestication variants. BMC Genomics 15: 465. Link



New publication!


Muñoz-Fuentes V, Linde Forsberg C, Vilà C, Morrell, J (2014) Single layer centrifugation separates spermatozoa from diploid cells in epididymal samples from grey wolves, Canis lupus (L.). Theriogenology, 82: 773–776.



More PhD positions!


The call for PhD grants by the Spanish Government under the Severo Ochoa program is still open until next friday 19th!!
Candidates are very welcome to get in contact with us for a PhD thesis in any of our ongoing projects.

Have a look to our research topics and do not hesitate to contact us: Jennifer Leonard ( or Carles Vilà (

For more information about the call, visit the government webpage. Applications can be written in English.



A PhD position is available in our group on Amphibian Evolutionary Genomics!


The PhD position is part of the project: "A stroll with amphibians along the path of speciation: from micro to macro evolutionary processes", funded by the Spanish Government ("Procesos micro y macro evolutivos en la diversificación de anfibios", CGL2013-47547-P).

Recent years have seen an increase in the knowledge of the amphibian diversity in the Neotropics. Many new species are being described every year at the same time that many others become part of the lists of endangered species. However, little is known about the patterns and processes that explain this diversity. In this proposal we join the efforts of research groups in four countries (Spain, Sweden, Mexico, USA and Brazil) to study the origin of the diversity of amphibians at very different spatial and temporal scales and using diverse analytical approaches.

We will assemble one transcriptome and use genomic approaches to study the demographic and evolutionary history of a genus of Neotropical frogs in the absence of a genome sequence of a closely related species that could be used as a reference. This genus includes species adapted to highland and lowland environments. We will investigate the phylogentic relationships between species, we will track demographic changes through time and their correspondence with habitat changes, and we will identify portions of the genome that are differentiated between populations with different degrees of isolation and that could indicate incipient speciation.

- Transcriptome assembly, mapping sequences obtained with Next Generation Sequencing approaches, demographic inference.
- Analysis of population structure using genotyping-by-sequencing approaches.

- The candidate should have a masters degree or equivalent degree in Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Biotechnology or Bioinformatics
- Previous experience working with next-generation-sequencing data and bioinformatic analyses is highly desirable
- Analytically inclined, familiarity with work in a Linux/Unix environment is highly desirable. The project will require programming in Perl or Python and the analysis of large genomic databases
- Proficient in both written and spoken English
- Willing to work abroad (we expect that part of the work will be carried out in close collaboration with our Swedish colleagues)
- Dynamic, eager to learn and willing to participate in all the activities run by the research group (weekly meetings, seminars, discussions …)

The project does not include field work. Samples are already available in scientific collections.

Evaluation of applicants will be initially carried out by government agencies. All applications should be submitted via (instructions in Spanish) this webpage. Candidates must also send documentation to Carles Vilà before September 22nd (

For further information do not hesitate to contact Prof. Carles Vilà.



New publication!


Albert EM, Fernández-Beaskoetxea S, Godoy JA, Tobler U, Schmidt BR, Bosch J (2014) Genetic management of an amphibian population after a chytridiomycosis outbreak. Conservation Genetics.



Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyeris coauthor of two great chapters from the book "Modern Phylogenetic Comparative Methods & Their Application in Evolutionary Biology". Have an interesting read!

Chapter 2: Working with the Tree of Life in Comparative Studies: How to Build and Tailor Phylogenies to Interspecific Datasets.

Chapter 8: An Introduction to Phylogenetic Path Analysis.

And do not forget the conference “Modern Phylogenetic Comparative Methods and their Application in Evolutionary Biology”, which will take place in Seville (Spain) from the 11th-15th November 2014.
Reduced registration fee until August 31st!!



Joaquín Ortegohas received the prestigious "Ramon y Cajal" Spanish grant/position. Congratulations Joaquín!


New publication!


García-Navas V, Ferrer ES, Sanz JJ, Ortego J (2014) The role of immigration and local adaptation on fine-scale genotypic and phenotypic population divergence in a less mobile passerine. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12412



New publication!


Ortego J, Gugger PF, Riordan EC, Sork VL (2014) Influence of climatic niche suitability and geographical overlap on hybridization patterns among southern Californian oaks. Journal of Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12334



Congratulations Eva Albert!

The paper Albert et al. (2013) Assessing the robustness of the networks of spatial genetic variation, Ecology Letters, has been awarded by the EBD has "Best Paper in 2013"



Upcoming conference: Modern Phylogenetic Comparative Methods and their Application in Evolutionary Biology

We are pleased to announce the upcoming conference entitled “Modern Phylogenetic Comparative Methods and their Application in Evolutionary Biology”, which will take place in Seville (Spain) from the 11th-15th November 2014.

Phylogenetic comparative methods are now widely used in very diverse fields of evolutionary biology to make robust inferences from interspecific data and phylogenies. Currently, we witness a rapid flourishing of the phylogenetic toolbox allowing researchers to tackle diverse questions concerning the evolution of species and their traits. The conference aims at providing a bouquet of overviews on the most recent developments by the most prominent experts of the comparative methodology, and also at attracting a wide range of contributions from different fields of evolutionary biology to demonstrate how the phylogenetic comparative approach can be used to address an ample array of biological questions in different taxa.

We welcome proposals for talks and posters on any aspect of the application of the phylogenetic comparative methodology that is relevant for making evolutionary inferences. The deadline for applications is the 1st of September.

We look forward to seeing you in Seville!



Visitors! Ariel Rodriguez and José Manuel Lucas Canovas

We are very pleased to receive Ariel Rodriguezfrom the Technical University of Braunschweig. He presented yesterday in the EBD an interesting seminar called "Advertisement call evolution in Cuban frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus". He is collaborating with Ávaro Dugo-Cota, Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyer and Carles Vilà.

We are also very pleased to receive José Manuel Lucas Canovas, from the Phylogeny and Animal Evolution Group with José Galián at the University of Murcia. He will stay for a month to study Iberian squirrel genetics with Jennifer A Leonard.



New publication!

den Tex R-J & Leonard JA (2014) The phylogeography of red and yellow coppersmith barbets (Aves: Megalaima haemacephala). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2: 00016.
doi: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00016 Link



Joaquín Ortegohas been awarded with a “Severo Ochoa Microproyectos” grant

The grant is to fund the project entitled “Genetic variation in the scrub oak Californian species complex”. This research project aims to integrate genetic information and species distribution modelling to study the factors structuring intra- and inter-specific genetic variation in an oak species complex distributed from northern California to Baja California.

This grant is an internal EBD proposal call "Microproyectos" financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, through the Severo Ochoa Program for Centres of Excellence in R+D+I (SEV-2012-0262).

Good job, Joaquín!



New publication!


Sanchez-Donoso I, Huisman J, Echegaray J, Puigcerver M, Rodríguez-Teijeiro JD, Hailer F, Vilà C (2014) Detecting slow introgression of invasive alleles in an extensively restocked game bird. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2: 00015.
doi: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00015 Link
Scripts for genotype simulation. Genotype data set available from the Dryad Digital Repository.



A new call of travel grants has been launched by ConGenOmics(a European Science Foundation network: Conservation Genomics): short visits and exchange grants for up to 3 months to visit other (aminly European) institutions. Link

News coverage

Parental care and sexual selection in Tanganyikan cichlid fishes Roadside Science. January 17, 2014

European origin of domestic dogs PDF: Highlighted in Science, Richard Dawkins Foundation (Facebook), El Mundo (Spanish newspaper)

Megafaunal Extintions November 4, 2011

Dogs, not wolves, eating sheep
October 3, 2010 September 3, 2010 August 30, 2010 August 27, 2010 August 27, 2010 August 26, 2010 August 26, 2010 August 26, 2010 August 26, 2010 July 16, 2010 January 26, 2010 January 19, 2010 January 19, 2010 November 19, 2009 November 15, 2009 September 14, 2009

Meeting Aula de Ecología del Lobo Ibérico - 5ª Edición
Meeting program (In Basque and Spanish) April 11, 2010 April 10, 2010

Black Gene in Wolves March 27, 2009

Multiple and Ancient Origins of the Domestic Dog