The consortium is composed of Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists who have conducted numerous studies on the behaviour, physiology, evolution and ecology of the ant genus Cataglyphis. This genus, which is distributed along the paleartic deserts, constitutes a particularly interesting model system to investigate organisms' adaptation to hot environments. Our aim is to bring together all the information collected over the past 20 years by each laboratory on this genus and to develop coordinated investigations in order to better understand the evolution of life history traits in response to selection pressures exerted by extremely hot and dry environments.
The objectives of our consortium are to
- Identify in which aspects of Cataglyphis biology important data are missing and try to fill these gaps in a coordinated research effort;
- Reconstruct the most accurate phylogeny based on the analysis of molecular, chemical and morphological data using samples already present in each laboratory as well as new samples collected during further research expeditions;
- Relate the phylogeny with life history traits and habitat characteristics in order to determine the genus evolutionary trajectory as well as possible tradeoffs among traits;
- Establish a series of new questions that deserve future investigations. Based on our experience, we believe that integrated studies on single model system may help obtain a clear idea of organisms' adaptations to desert environments.