LUOMUS

Finnish Museum of Natural History

Pedro Cardoso

Curator, Principal Investigator

I am a curator for arachnids, millipedes and terrestrial molluscs. My research currently spans a number of different subjects, from ecology and biogeography to conservation biology and taxonomy. I use different ways to approach such disciplines, from spatial statistics to the broad field of artificial intelligence.

 

Research topics

Publications and activities (links)

Spider taxonomy

Contrary to many other organisms, spiders always cause some kind of reaction from everyone, be it repulsion or, in my case, fascination. And at a global level, probably one in every three species is yet to be found and described. Although all groups have unknown diversity, I am studying Mediterranean and Macaronesian spiders, the most unknown regions of Europe, focusing on a few families with spectacular diversification in these areas.

Hogna radiata

Biodiversity assessment

Biodiversity is extremely difficult to sample and measure, especially when one considers the vast numbers of species that can live in even the smallest areas. A single hectare (100x100m) of tropical forest may be home to tens of thousands of species. Even the most exhaustive inventories are condemned to be incomplete. I am developing different field and statistical methods to: (1) maximize collected diversity with minimum effort; and (2) estimate unseen diversity from incomplete sampling.

 
Malpolon monspessulanus

Biodiversity informatics

In an era when the internet is a repository for all kinds of information, the amount of data compiled in multiple sources is staggering. The problem is to harvest and make sense of such data. Multiple biodiversity portals and other online sources are growing in size and importance, in such speed that the way we collect, store, retrieve and analyse data are becoming critical. I am involved in different projects dealing with all these facets of biodiversity informatics.

 
Rhinolophus hipposideros

Island biogeography

Islands are perfect natural laboratories to study how species and communities evolve and function. Many are isolated for so long and so far from the mainland that most of their species live nowhere else. This also means that many island species are rare to the point of being constantly under threat. I am studying the evolution of different groups, why do some islands have more species than others and what happens when habitat destruction and the introduction of exotic species drives many species to small enclaves, putting them on the verge of extinction.

 
Pico, S. Jorge & Terceira, Azores

Biospeleology

Like islands, caves and other subterranean habitats are very peculiar in their faunas. In fact, only very few species are able to survive in such places, where light is non-existent and the amount of available energy is usually limited. Moreover, caves are usually isolated systems, leading to the limited distribution of many of its species. Besides identifying and describing such species, I study what influences their distribution and how to best preserve such unique biodiversity.

 
Gruta da Lama, Azores

Conservation biology

With so many species endangered and so much pressure put into them, conservation biology is a typical “crisis” discipline. It is impossible to preserve everything, so we must optimize how much land is set aside for conservation of species and how to deal with different pressures outside wildlife reserves. I am developing methods to make such optimization. I am also dealing with political questions, such as prioritizing the protection of species according to threat level (e.g. IUCN and the EU Habitats Directive species lists).

 
Leptaxis minor

Artificial intelligence

The artificial intelligence field has seen tremendous advances during later years, up to the point where many scientists are already talking about the “automation of science”. The fact is many of the methods in AI have tremendous application in all fields of biology, yet they are seldom used except for a few exceptional sub-disciplines. I am developing and applying AI methods to my other interests in science, using for example evolutionary computation, a set of techniques where solutions to given problems evolve much as species evolve in nature.

 
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone, USA

 

Person in charge of the page: 
Pedro Cardoso
20.2.2014