Evolution unfolds in an ecological theatre. The context within which selection takes place is set by interactions between the organisms and abiotic factors as well as by inter- and intra-specific interactions. Within the latter, sexual interactions are paramount in sexually reproductive species because offspring production is contingent on access to members (and gametes) of the other sex. This implies intense selection acting on all traits having to do with sexual interactions, which in turn raises questions about the genetic variation underlying these traits, the factors that maintain such variation, and the broad ecological and evolutionary consequences of the interplay between the two sexes within its ecological theatre (which is, now more than ever because of human action, a moving target).
The main interests of our research group relate broadly to the study of connections between evolution and ecology, with a focus on the evolutionary ecology of interactions between males and females in a context of an always-changing world. Our research attempts to decipher the evolutionary drivers of sexual interactions and aims to integrate the evolutionary consequences of these interactions at different levels, from the underlying genetic variance allowing responses to selection in the face of ecological variation, to the effects upon phenotypes and the fate of populations in response to rapidly changing environmental conditions. Our research includes the study of mating system evolution, the estimation of genetic variation (heritability, evolvability) in sexually selected traits and in life-history traits, the study of coevolutionary male-female adaptations to sexual selection and sexual conflict, the study of female/male-driven transgenerational effects on offspring phenotypes and, in general, the genetically- and non-genetically-based transmission of altered environments.
The research carried out by the group is question-driven and predominantly follows empirical approaches using several model systems.
We carry our research at Doñana Biological Station-CSIC (Spanish Research Council), in Seville, but we collaborate profusely with researchers worldwide.