What we do
We aim to be one of the most creative, productive and exciting research groups in evolutionary biology and biogeography. We want to understand how biological diversity has evolved and how it will be affected by ongoing climate change and habitat destruction. The scope of our studies range from specific organism groups in isolated regions in the Neotropics to global cross-taxonomic patterns.
Who we are
We are a diverse research group with varied scientific backgrounds covering a range of academic and technical specialisms. We come from countries all over the globe and work on many different scientific questions and organism groups.
Despite our breadth of backgrounds and interests, we are united by a genuine interest in understanding how biological diversity has evolved, how it varies over space and time, and which factors and processes determine this variation.
Tobias recently completed his PhD in the Antonelli Lab, working in the field of macroevolution. His PhD project, “The Rise and Fall of Species”, investigated the dynamics of speciation, extinction and species turnover on broad taxonomic, geographic and temporal scales. Tobias is interested in understanding the impact and role of biotic and abiotic factors that influence, shape and drive the evolution of life on Earth. To answer these questions, he uses genetic data from present biodiversity and fossil occurrences of the past, using and developing new bioinformatic approaches that are capable of handling big data. During his Masters programme at the Nordic Academy of Biodiversity and Systematic Studies (NABiS), based at Gothenburg University, Sweden, Tobias developed a new approach which increases the utility of NGS data for resolving phylogenies of recently diverged taxa.
Lova is a Malagasy researcher interested in island biodiversity and tropical mountain systems. Her long-standing taxonomist interest has been in bryophytes. Bryophytes, especially liverworts, are her favourite organisms. This group remains one of the least documented components of the Malagasy rich biota. She completed her PhD at the University of Cape Town in 2018, where she investigated the regional and global context of the bryophytes of Madagascar, and the factors affecting epiphytic bryophyte diversity, distribution and assemblage of communities along an elevational gradient.
My passion is nature and my mission is to stop biodiversity loss. To tackle this major challenge, I study the distribution and evolution of species and develop methods to speed up scientific discovery. My focus is on the tropics, where most species occur and the threats are most acute. My research to date has encompassed the study of the formation, extinction, and migration of species, particularly teasing apart the relative roles of abiotic (e.g. climate, landscape) and biotic (e.g. competition, adaptation) drivers of biodiversity change through space and time. I am also engaged in interactions with society and scientists across disciplines, with the main goal of increasing the knowledge, awareness and protection of biological diversity around the world.
Ian is a quantitative ecologist with 5 years of experience in research fields related to biogeography, forest ecology, movement ecology and surface hydrology. As a research assistant in French research institutions and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Ian has worked on modelling the dispersal and migration of wild populations; estimating and mapping the impact of climate change on the decline of species populations; and developing efficient, statistical, modelling and mapping tools for predicting the distribution of species. Ian has a master’s degree in Biostatistics & Modelling
Cássia is an evolutionary biogeographer, interested in eco-genomics and diversification of plant family Apocynaceae, and in the evolutionary history of the flora of outcrops in old landscapes of South America (e.g. Campo Rupestre and Canga). Currently, she is a Newton International Fellow (The Royal Society) at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, working with Eimear Nic Lughadha, Felix Forest, Alex Antonelli and Justin Moat. By investigating biogeography and traits among different lineages of flowering plants, and improving the resolution of molecular phylogenies using NGS approaches, she aims to understand the evolution of flora in old landscapes. She will also compare species and areas at risk to provide information relevant to conservation management.
Keywords: Asclepiadoideae, outcrops, phylogenomics, biogeography, conservation.
Allison is the Director of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre (GGBC) and Project Manager of the Antonelli Lab. She studied ecology (BSc, 2008) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and protist systematics (PhD, 2013) at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. She then worked as a visiting researcher in tree fern systematics and biogeography, also at Uppsala University. In 2015 she started Forest Cat Editing, which works with academic editing and communication. While operating her company as a “digital nomad” from nearly two dozen countries, Allison further developed her interest in scientific communication and outreach. This eventually led her back to Gothenburg to work with the Antonelli Lab and to help start the new biodiversity centre. She co-edited the book Mountains, Climate and Biodiversity with Alexandre Antonelli and Carina Hoorn (Wiley, 2018), and has authored a number of scientific and popular science articles. Allison is an avid traveler and adventurer, hiker, SCUBA diver, mushroom connoisseur, fossil hunter and all-around nerd.
Rosie is interested in the biodiversity, biogeography and conservation of rock outcrop flora in Latin America, with a particular focus on Bolivia. The aim of the project is to document the flora and understand the evolutionary processes that shaped these environments. Rosie’s research yield results on the global value of the plants in these areas to inform conservation management. Rosie is a NERC funded PhD student at the University of Exeter with Prof. Toby Pennington and Dr. Lucy Rowland, and RBG, Kew, with Prof. Alex Antonelli and Dr. Nicholas Hind.
Natalia is a specialist in archaeogenomics, population genomics and plant domestication. Based at RBG Kew, she is supporting research activities of Oscar Pérez-Escobar and leading her own projects on Nymphaeales and other groups. Work includes orchid phylogenomics and domestication of useful plants such as the date palm.
Victor Deklerck is the Research Team Leader for the World Forest ID Programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Victor leads the World Forest ID research team on assessing new timber forensic techniques as well as optimizing and combining existing techniques using AI.
Pérez-Escobar, Oscar Alejandro
Oscar is Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, working on orchid phylogenomics and evolution. His main research interests are centred towards understanding the macroevolutionary dynamics of Neotropical orchids.
Sonia specialises in biodiversity conventions and is based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She started her PhD in 2020 on the “conservation priorities of wild orchids in trade”. Sonia is researching the social complexities of CITES family listings, as well as CITES scientific decision-making processes. She is undertaking her PhD with Emily Woodhouse in the Human Ecology Research Group at UCL, with Alex Antonelli as a co-supervisor.
Smith, Rhian J.
Rhian is the coordinator for the Antonelli research programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She studied Ecology and Environmental Management at Cardiff University (BSc, 1997) and then went on to do a PhD in population biology and conservation genetics and a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics at Trinity College Dublin (PGradDip (Distinction), 2001; PhD, 2004), while also working as a Senior Ecologist for Natura Environmental Consultants. She has been at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for 16 years, conducting postdoctoral work on orchid population genetics and the phylogeny of the plant family Haemodoraceae before moving into science education and communication. She was the first Kew director of the MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation, delivered with Queen Mary University of London. Combined with her current position as Senior Science Editor, she is responsible for coordinating the strategic development and management of Alex Antonelli’s research programme at Kew, as he builds a new and dynamic research group.
Kiran is interested in systematic conservation planning in the context of biodiversity, connectivity and dynamic systems. In past lives, she has worked with bird migration, meerkats and bees, and has spent a lot of time on software development, particularly acoustic machine learning (rcnn), reinforcement learning, graph theory and multi-sensor geolocator tracking.
Weston is a postdoc in the Antonelli Lab at the University of Gothenburg interested in understanding the processes underlying patterns of plant diversity at regional and global scales. His current research focuses on understanding how habitat loss is impacting species distributions and driving extinction amongst the vascular plant flora on the island of Hispaniola. Previously, Weston was a postdoc at the University of Florida, where he worked on developing phylogenomic methods and generating target-capture sequence data for studying the early evolution of land plants. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Vermont in 2018, where his dissertation focused on the evolution of the clubmosses (Lycopodiaceae), especially the group’s rapid radiation in the tropical Andes.
Daniel is interested in developing software and algorithms to better understand the complex patterns of biodiversity through space and time.
After studying engineering physics at Uppsala and Umeå University, he worked as a research engineer at Icelab, Umeå University, on developing Infomap (a network clustering algorithm based on information theory) and visualization tools to simplify and highlight important structures in complex networks.
In 2016 he joined the Antonelli Lab in Gothenburg, where he worked part-time developing the Infomap Bioregions project, applying network theory to reveal the underlying geographical structure in species distributions (http://bioregions.mapequation.org). He also worked with developing a digital citizen science platform to let anyone log and share the species they see, and get help with identification (http://knowme.earth).
He is currently doing a PhD project about “mapping flow pathways in complex systems”, supervised by Martin Rosvall at the Department of Physics, Umeå University, with Alexandre Antonelli as assistant supervisor.
Torres Jimenez, Maria Fernanda
Mafe is interested in phylogeography and biodiversity in the Neotropics, mainly involving ant-plant mutualisms as her subject of study. She was a postdoc at the University of Gothenburg working with the Amazonian palm Geonoma. By studying the genetic and ecological differences between morphotypes of Geonoma macrostachys, she aims to understand the mechanisms behind ecological speciation in plants. She is interested in using NGS data to infer plants’ evolutionary histories at the population and species levels. She is currently a senior researcher at Vilnius University where she is focusing on conservation genomics.
Keywords: palms, ant-plant, Neotropics, phylogenomics, phylogeography
Harith Morgadinho Farooq is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, where he is using species extinction risk and phylogenetic diversity to map and rank important areas for biodiversity conservation. He is also interested in sampling biases and herpetology, and is managing a project to try to re-find species not seen in decades and thought to be extinct (extinctorshy.org).
Keywords: biogeography, conservation, amphibians, reptiles, ecology, biodiversity
Jakub is working on algorithms for large-scale phylogenetic reconstruction. He is also interested in applying machine learning to problems in genomics and biodiversity. His background is in algorithms, phylogenetics and machine learning.
Marie is a PhD student based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Queen Mary University of London, supervised by Ilia Leitch, Andrew Leitch and Alex Antonelli. She is interested in how species distributions in the UK flora change in space and time and how genome size influences these dynamics. Using historic distribution data, maps of land use change and environmental monitoring, she investigates how genome size contributes to the determination of plant species’ spreads. To establish the value of genome size as a powerful ecological predictor, she makes use of the unique sampling history of the British flora in building predictive models of future plant distributions in response to ongoing changes in climate, land use and pollution.
Emke is an industrial ecologist with a background in biology. She is interested in the impacts of land use and land transformations on biodiversity, specifically from product and production systems. Her work is focused primarily on the identification and development of models for the inclusion of biodiversity indicators into life-cycle assessment (LCA), which is a frequently used decision support tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or service system through all stages of its life cycle (from cradle to grave). Emke is a PhD student at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg under the main supervision of Ulrika Palme and co-supervised by Alex Antonelli.