I have particular interest in both shallow and deep-sea ecology. My research has focused on the diversity patterns of deep temperate benthic systems, the biogeography of temperate corals and on relating environmental information with coral distribution by ecological niche modelling. Currently I'm focusing on deep sea coral populations and how they connect over wide geographic areas. I'm also studying what are the environmental drivers of their current and past distributions to try to understand how will they cope with a changing environment.
Diversity of deep reefs
My study of four major deep reef habitats in southern Portugal, Atlantic, showed several new taxonomic records for Portugal, particularly structuring species including corals. We used deep diving, ROV and submersibles to survey in detail a population of a vulnerable red coral at 60-100 m depth, rediscovered after 3 centuries. Our findings suggest that there is still much biodiversity to be uncovered in these enigmatic habitats. Knowing the diversity at the ecosystem, species and genetic levels is fundamental to understand resilience to changes and apply optimal management strategies.
Distribution and biogeography of corals
One way to infer about species responses to climate is by relating species' occurrences in space with environmental factors such as temperature. Our study of a vulnerable coral across the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic has indicated that there are regions of suitable habitat that have remained overlooked, including >100 m depth. We've documented unique genetic diversity in Atlantic populations and strong admixture between both regions. Our work has also showed unexpected persistent refugia in southern Portugal during the Last Glacial Maximum (approx. 21k years ago), agreeing with the high and unique genetic diversity there.