The main aim of this research project is to develop and evaluate intelligent sampling strategies that will enable more efficient construction of large-scale phylogenetic trees, and ultimately the Tree of Life. The project aims to reconstruct a large, near-comprehensive phylogeny of caecilian amphibians, and to use it to compare supertree and supermatrix approaches for building trees of life, as well as to investigate experimental design strategies intended to maximize the efficiency of large phylogeny reconstruction. The most innovative part of the project will be the use of supertrees in the development of strategies to effectively identify areas of poor overlap in large phylogenies. This is virtually an unexplored, cutting-edge area in the field of systematics and supertree reconstruction. It is hoped that the strategies developed in this project will have broad applicability and will become essential to efficiently plan and successfully culminate ambitious research initiatives aiming tree of life reconstruction (with real savings in time and cost), which is primary to almost every biological study (phylogenetic knowledge is necessary for the correct classification of any organism). Hence, these results will contribute to the more efficient implementation of strategies of conservation and sustainable management of biological diversity and natural resources, which is very timely and in line with the objectives of EU environmental research under FP7. Ultimately, the proposed project will put Europe at the forefront of tree of life reconstruction, as well as of amphibian systematics and evolution (particularly of caecilians). The high quality and profile of the fellow, together with the vast expertise of the host group, and the scientific excellence of the receiving institution will ensure that overall goals are successfully met in time.
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