Together for Biodiversity

Biodiversity and Islands - BIOISLE



Group Description

Taking advantage of living in a biodiversity rich archipelago, as well as of the multidisciplinary origin of its members, BIOISLE is in a privileged position to address this issue with a holistic and integrative approach. Our research focuses on two domains:


  1. the foundation and dynamics of island biodiversity, searching for patterns, identifying processes and learning the mechanisms by which evolution works, for which the abundant endemism constitutes a most appropriate object and model to observe the ways organisms disperse and populations speciate;
  2. the ecological framework in which biodiversity thrives, and the strategies to preserve and manage the environment, through modelling of natural processes and adequate support for management and planning policies on in-land waters, coastal zone and nature reserves.

Within each domain, the focus on diverse areas and taxa brings together the pieces of the puzzle. Systematics identifies species and their relationships, biogeography/phylogeography searches for ancient and modern distribution patterns, seeking to refine and advance the original elements of the theory of evolution and deepen its understanding.


Ecology deals with the constraints of populations and the effects of natural and non-natural selection, which, coupled with management and planning guidelines, provides policy makers scientifically based references to decide the best use and protection of natural resources. These broad lines are pursued from various angles. The endemic taxa provide different, although complementary, answers to speciation and dispersion: the high endemicity of terrestrial molluscs and the hidden variability of plants, the increasingly revealed endemicity of marine molluscs and other invertebrates as well as algae, provide excellent fields to address questions on that realm.


The overwhelming European origin of the Azores fauna and flora against the main direction of dispersal agents such as winds and currents – is being addressed from a paleobiogeographical perspective through investigation of the fossil beds of Santa Maria as well as with molecular tools. Addressing biodiversity from an ecological point of view, through morphological and genetic analyses, specifically of vascular plants, provides a good base for modelling diversity, allowing to study at the theoretical level the issues of dispersion, ecology and speciation. The need to gain a better understanding of the processes therein implied has forced the group to broaden its research to a Macaronesian perspective.

BIOISLE also focuses on the threats to indigenous biodiversity by creating databases, evaluating and monitoring the populations of endemic, alien and invasive species and monitoring environmental quality. A sustainable use of local resources is equally addressed either molecularly through biotechnological research on species of economic value or at an ecosystem level by making our biodiversity an added value for tourism. Knowledge from the multiple sources above mentioned incorporates management plans and assists in the design of environmental management systems, which puts into practice and implements models to support decision-making and management.


BIOISLE is also very committed to raise awareness and involve the community on the sustainable use of natural resources through a wide range of environmental education activities.




Student Supervisions