Evolution and biogeography of island birds


Birds are the most diverse vertebrate group on islands. They are also perhaps the best studied group on islands, as ornithological work has a long history and there is currently a very active community gathering data on distribution, ecology, traits and life history of insular birds. We use these types of data in combination with new and published molecular phylogenies to understand how, why and when birds colonized and speciated on islands.

Dr. Luis Valente

Senior researcher
Understanding evolution

Assistant professor
Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences


Bird diversity
in isolated ecosystems

Our work on island birds includes recent work on equilibrium dynamics in Galápagos and Macaronesian birds. We also compiled the first global phylogenetic dataset of terrestrial oceanic island birds, which we used for global evolutionary test of MacArthur & Wilson’s theory of island biogeography. We are currently collaborating with ornithologists and NGOs working in the Gulf of Guinea archipelago (Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe) to study the evolutionary history of these highly diverse islands.

Picture: BBPP