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Morphological evolution in island birds: underlying molecular and ecological mechanisms


Understanding body size variation across and within species has been a main quest in evolutionary biology, but many of the mechanisms underlying body size evolution remain elusive. This is largely because of the complex interplay of different factors such as climate, diet and interactions with competitors and predators. Island are simplified ecosystems with a reduced number of habitats, species diversity and number of predators, and generally milder climate, making them ideal natural laboratories for dissecting the intricate mechanisms underlying body size evolution. ISLADAPT aims to unravel mechanisms of morphological evolution and species diversification in birds, using both macro and microecological-evolutionary approaches based on state-of-the-art methodologies such as metabarcoding and Bayesian analysis. First, this project will use data from museums and literature for endemic island species and their closest relatives from mainland worldwide (WP1) to unravel the underlying mechanisms, such as changes in the ecological niche, geographical features and phylogeny, that explain the systematic morphological changes on islands (WP2). Second, ISLADAPT will use field-based data to test the hypothesis that morphological changes on islands are linked to changes in the feeding niche breadth. To do this, faeces and biometric data will be analysed from 20 bird species from Gulf Guinean Island and the nearby mainland, and diet composition will be identified with metabarcoding techniques (WP3). Third, ISLADPT will examine the relationship between bird morphological evolution and lineage diversification on islands by using biometric data from museums and phylogenetic information for three archipelagos: New Caledonia, the Gulf of Guinea and Salomon Islands (WP4). ISLADAPT will therefore address central, open questions in island biology and reveal the underlying mechanisms, thereby providing a major contribution to our understanding of island adaptation.


Net EU contribution
€ 156 778,56
Campus De Vairao Da Universidade Do Porto, Rua Padre Armando Quintas Nº7
4485-661 Vairao, Vila Do Conde

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Continente Norte Área Metropolitana do Porto
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
No data