Vertebrates: The Department’s own lines of research are focused on: 1) Vertebrate ecology, from theoretical studies (e.g. on behaviour, evolution, biology of fishes and amphibians, etc.) to more applied studies on perturbation ecology (e.g. space-time distribution of birds, bioindicators, conservation biology). 2) Research on zoological collections: retrospective population genetics and zoological preparation techniques. In addition, parts of these collections are exhibited here and in other science museums. They are also used for educational purposes here and in other centres.
Arthropods: Arthropoda are one of the most successful taxonomic groups in evolutionary terms, as the group is very extensive and diverse. It is estimated that Arthropoda account for approximately 80% of all known animal species at present. That is why any research project in which Arthropoda are the study group requires good teamwork, because it is essential to ensure close collaboration, both with the network of taxonomy specialists, in order to obtain correct, precise lists of species, and with the Department specialists, in order to ensure correct documentation and management of the large number of specimens to be processed and included in the collection resources. Research are focused on: 1) Biospeleology (hypogeous fauna), 2) Arthropodiversity, and 3) Functional ecology in agroecosystems.
Non-Arthropod Invertebrates: Biological research in the department takes place in two areas: terrestrial malacology, the more traditional area, and marine biology, which was added more recently. The drive to research is still subject to the priority of achieving the scientific endowment of the collections.
Palaeontology: The research programme covers identification and classification studies (Taxonomy) of fossil marine macrofauna and microfauna accumulated in sedimentary rocks deposited in the Tethys Ocean (ancient ocean that partly corresponds to the current Mediterranean Sea) and studies the evolution over time of these biotic communities based on their relative position in the different geological levels (Biostratigraphy). Furthermore, the study of the geographical distribution of the fossil microfauna and macrofauna contributes to knowledge of the structure and evolution of oceanic basins (Palaeobiogeography). Also, as with current organisms, the affinity or adaptation of certain elements or groups of fauna with or to specific ecological niches makes it possible to characterize the palaeoenvironment of the different areas of the marine environment and to study their evolution over geological time (Palaeoecology).
Botany: The Mediterranean plant collections of the Botanical Garden provide excellent materials for botanical research studies linked to many different disciplines. The principal scientific studies that bring together botanical institutions with the Botanical Garden of Barcelona are aimed at obtaining information to help resolve questions regarding plant conservation: studies of reproductive biology, analyses of genetic diversity, population dynamics, studies of physiology, etc. The nurseries and greenhouses of the Garden are used to cultivate and maintain plants of scientific and educational interest. These cultivated plants are then introduced into the exhibition spaces, amongst which the rock crevice communities are of particular interest, as they harbour many endangered species. By this means, the Botanical Garden raises visitors’ awareness about the importance of plants and of conserving the environment. Moreover, the information provided includes details about the conservation of endangered species in Catalonia, as well as descriptions of ongoing projects and the results obtained from them.
Petrology: The Petrology Department is currently engaged in the following collection related projects: 1) Creation of an educational collection (in collaboration with the Department of Activities and Education), 2) PetroMusVi: Virtual Museum of rocks, and 3) Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry.
Mineralogy: Research projects developed in the Mineralogy Department are included in the following continuous lines of research: 1)Critical metals for the energy transition, 2) Metallogenesis of the Earth’s mantle, and 3) Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry.
Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology: The group of Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology of the Museum has been working since the early 1980s on aspects of social organisation, ecology, and population dynamics. The group works in close collaboration with the following groups: Department of Zoology, Uppsala University (Suècia), Wildlife Unit de la University of Georgia (EUA) and Estación Biológica de Doñana – CSIC, with which the group shares coordination of several research projects.
The various lines of research are presented independently, although they are related to each other and share common objectives. An example of this is the study of the management of fat reserves, in which, using plumage coloration as a sign of social status, the degree of dominance of each individual can be predicted and the survival rates of dominant and subordinate birds can also be analyzed.
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