Biogeography, Ecology and Speciation in stonechats

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    Saxicola dacotiae

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    Saxicola dacotiae female

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    Saxicola dacotiae male

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    Saxicola dacotiae

The avian genus Saxicola is an interesting group due to its broad distribution (Africa, Asia, Europe and various islands across Oceania), and because two species within this genus, S. torquata and S. caprata, have undergone dramatic diversification resulting in more than 25 and 16 subspecies, respectively. In fact, within the S. torquata complex some subspecies are now considered true species.

I started my interest with this group studying the Canary Islands stonechat (Saxicola dacotiae) that has one of the most restrictive distributions within Palaearctic, occurring only on the island of Fuerteventura. I am still using this endemic bird species like a model to ascertain the ecological adaptations of birds living in arid environments but also to ascertain the reasons of its narrow range distribution.

Moreover, I am collaborating with some friends to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms working in the differentiation (incipient speciation?) of some selected populations within the S. torquata complex.