Miss Nelia Mestre

Role/area of expertise

Evolutionary Ecology - Life in Extreme Environments

Location & Contact Details

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Miss Nelia Mestre

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My research interests deal with the reproductive patterns linking deep-sea and shallow-water invertebrate phylogenies. It is hypothesized that with the study of early life history traits it is possible to find evolutionary links between closely related species. The current working hypothesis is that past evolutionary adaptations of a common ancestor to changes in the environment, requiring a wide physiological tolerance (e.g. to pressure and temperature), are kept by the early ontogeny of extant species. In this sense, it would be expected that embryos and larvae of both shallow-water and deep-sea species with a close phylogenetic relationship have similar pressure tolerance windows and similar reproductive traits. Using High-Pressure technologies, the temperature and pressure effects on the larval development of shallow-water invertebrates are studied. Results showed great tolerance to high-pressures, where larvae of mussels and shrimps successfully develop under pressures equivalent to 2000 meters deep, within reach of many hydrothermal vent sites. Shallow-water species in temperate regions can be exposed to a wide range of water temperatures, for which they require a wide scope of temperature tolerance as do the fauna living in hydrothermal vent habitats. It is hypothesized a direct colonization of hydrothermal vents by cold-eurythermal shallow-water invertebrates over long evolutionary periods of time. These studies may improve our understanding of how marine life evolved and help to predict how it may evolve under climatic changes.

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Our research is intended to tackle the big environmental issues facing the world. Research priorities will include the oceans' role in climate change, sea level change and the future of the Arctic Ocean.



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