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João Vasco de Sousa Santos e Andrade Leite

João Vasco de Sousa Santos e Andrade Leite


Member type
Former Members
CIBIO-InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas. 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal

I graduated in Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto and have recently obtained my M.Sc. degree in Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution at CIBIO-InBIO.

My overall scientific areas of interest include Biodiversity, Biogeography, Conservation Genetics, Evolutionary Processes and Natural History of Terrestrial Vertebrate Populations, mainly of Carnivores. With this in mind, the research that I developed during my Master’s focused on the Evolution and Biogeography of Canids in North-West Africa, namely the Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) and four species of foxes (genus Vulpes): the pale fox (V. pallida), the Rüppell’s fox (V. rueppellii), the red fox (V. vulpes) and the fennec fox (V. zerda).

Based on mitochondrial DNA sequences I studied phylogeographic patterns, and investigated population structure and hybridization using microsatellites (nuclear DNA). For some species this was the first molecular data ever produced, at least in that region. In the future I intend to look deeper into the evolution of these compelling, yet elusive species, using other types of genetic markers and applying molecular results to a Geographical Information System (GIS) and follow a landscape genetics approach.

I hope that this kind of research contributes to an increase in our understanding of the evolutionary and biogeographical mechanisms responsible for genetic structuring within populations and speciation events of large and highly mobile carnivorous mammals. More importantly, improve our capabilities for the conservation of these and other endangered species, as well as expanding the knowledge on biodiversity as a whole in remote and poorly studied regions of the world, such as the Sahara desert and surrounding areas.

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