Old relicts in a dynamic environment — Molecular phylogeny, biogeography and effects of climate change on Dinaric cave-dwelling spiders
Presenta: Martina Pavlek
Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb
Caves are isolated habitats that offer excellent opportunities for biodiversity research. Subterranean ecosystems are simpler than surface ones: their stable climatic conditions, scarcity of food and absence of light drive the evolution of highly specialized fauna. Dinarides, a mountain chain in western Balkans, is one of the top biodiversity hotspots of cave fauna in the world. Spiders are not an exception. Despite of their seemingly stable climatic conditions, recent studies show that global warming may impact subterranean habitats by rising temperatures and, consequently, threatening highly adapted cave species. In an attempt to untangle the mechanisms that shaped the origin, present-day diversity and distribution of cave spiders in the Dinarides, Dr Pavlek investigates their systematics, phylogeography, and environmental preferences. Also, by projecting potential distributions under predicted scenarios of global warming, she will predict future habitat suitability and assess vulnerability of this unique and fragile fauna.
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