My research interests have been focused on the study of evolutionary biology of the insect Philaenus spumarius. In our research group we are developing an interesting project named “Adaptive significance and genetic basis of a balanced colour-polymorphism”, headed by the Post-Doc Sofia Seabra, which aims to study the genetic basis of colour polymorphism in meadow spittlebug P. spumarius as well as its phylogeographic history. I am the research technician of this project and my main goal is to develop experimental setups to obtain data on the fitness and behaviour of the different colour forms, in order to investigate the adaptive significance of the colour polymorphism, particularly the advantage/disadvantage of the melanic forms in terms of survival and reproductive success, efficiency of egg maturation and resistance to desiccation.
Recently (2011), I have completed my Msc thesis entitled “Genetic variation in two littorinid gastropods along the East African coast: comparison with morphological data”, focused in phylogeography of littorinid species (Gastropoda: Littorinidae), an interesting group of marine snails widespread around the world and widely used in evolution and adaptation studies. I used neutral genetic markers to verify if the observed genetic structure is fully correlated with the verified morphological adaptation and differentiation or conversely the latter is influenced by abiotic factors and distinct dispersal capabilities.