Researchers and Fellows

Lic. Daniela Huenten

Doctoral Fellow AGENCIA

Ariana Alarcón Saavedra

Lic. Daniela Huenten

My research

My investigation is focused on exploring the biodiversity of the class Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) and its genetic connectivity, specifically with regard to the diverse modes of dispersal and evolutionary processes that have occurred between South America and Antarctica. The objectives of this study are to update and deepen our understanding of the specific richness of ophiuroids in Argentina and the surrounding Antarctic waters, while simultaneously examining the potential evolutionary mechanisms that have driven the current biodiversity of this group in the region. This includes an investigation of how these mechanisms have shaped the genetic composition of various populations along a gradient of latitudinal and bathymetric factors. Through this research, we aim to contribute to a broader comprehension of the factors that influence the evolution and diversification of ophiuroids in the Southern Ocean.

Research goals
  • To examine the current biodiversity of ophiuroids inhabiting waters of Argentina and Antarctica, with a focus on resolving taxonomic problems or species complexes.
  • To infer about the role of historical and contemporary processes on phylogeographic patterns of ophiuroids species whit different reproductive strategies.
  • Use an integrative biogeographical approach to understand the genders and species evolution, with a broad latitudinal and bathymetric distribution in order to clarify the processes involved in their origin and diversification.
  • To prepare identification guides for the different, describing those that are most common (or typical).
Research topics

Biodiversity of the class Ophiuroidea: while morphological analyses have been an important tool in species identification and diversity studies, they often have limitations in terms of taxonomic resolution and may not be sufficient to distinguish between very similar species or to identify cryptic species. In such cases, molecular techniques, such as DNA sequencing, can be employed to complement morphological analyses and improve species identification accuracy, thus providing a more comprehensive understanding of species diversity.

Phylogeography and Biological Aspects: In the context of Ophiuroidea diversity, comparing phylogeographic analyses of different species with varying reproductive strategies can be valuable in understanding how evolutionary processes have shaped the genetic diversity and geographical distribution of these species.

Biogeography: an integrative biogeographic approach capable of combining morphological, molecular, and environmental data will allow us to understand how historical events, such as continental drift and changes in sea levels, have influenced the diversification and distribution of ophiuroid species in the South Atlantic. By also considering current factors, such as ocean currents and environmental gradients, we can analyze population connectivity and its influence on diversity patterns.

Bvd. Brown 2915 (U9120ACD)
Puerto Madryn, Chubut - Argentina
Tel.: +54 (0280) 488-3184 int 1329