The main focus is the study of herpetofauna in biodiversity hotspots, areas with an exceptionally high ecosystem, species, and genetic diversity. Such regions in Eurasia represent the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central Asia. All of them are major regions of interest.
The Balkans is phylogeographically less studied than Iberia or even the Apennine Peninsula despite it being richer in species and paleoendemics. Phylogeographic studies have shown that the Balkans was not only an important radiation center and the Pleistocene refugium, but it was also the major source of postglacial colonization of Central and Northern Europe. In other words, the current species and genetic diversity of Central European biota would look very different without the Balkans.
The Middle East and Central Asia represent a wide area with several important biodiversity hotspots lying in the Levant (Israel & Lebanon), Zagros mountains (Iraq & Iran), or the Hindu Kush, Pamir, and the Tien Shan mountains (Afghanistan, Pakistan & Central Asiatic countries).
The current focus is to identify patterns in the historical biogeography and the evolution of amphibians and reptiles within these regions based on genetic, morphological, ecological, and environmental data, specifically study and resolve:
evolutionary histories and uncovering cryptic diversity in Eurasia
centers of radiations, refugia, post-glacial expansions, and re-colonization routes after the Last Glacial Maximum
taxonomy and its importance for conservation purposes
Aziz Avci - Adnan Menderes University, Aydın, Turkey
Aaron Bauer - Villanova University, USA
Christophe Dufresnes - Nanjing Forestry University, China
Uwe Fritz - Museum of Zoology Dresden, Germany
Václav Gvoždík - Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
Sylvia Hofmann - Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Germany
Oleg V. Kukushkin - Karadag Research Station, Theodosia, Crimea, Ukraine
Rafaqat Masroor - Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Pakistan
Shai Meiri - The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv, Israel
Riyad Sadek - American University in Beirut, Lebanon
Jiří Šmíd - National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic
Thasun Amarasinghe - Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
And many more!
Interested in joining the lab?