Disputation: José Pedro Moreirão Cerca Monteiro de Oliveira

Doctorial Candidate José Pedro Moreirão Cerca Monteiro de Oliveira at Natural History Museum will be defending the thesis On the origin of cryptic species: Insights from the Stygocapitella species complex  for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

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The University of Oslo is closed. The PhD defence will therefore be fully digital and streamed directly using Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.

Ex auditorio questions: the chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking 'Participants -> Raise hand'. 

  • Join the disputation

  • Download Zoom
  • Request for thesis copy
  • Watch the Trial Lecture 
    • Tittle:

    • The relevance of undescribed species for science and society, and the potential for elucidation through genomics.


    • Main research findings

      Biologists typically distinguish species by how they look. However, with the development of DNA-based techniques to identify species, they found that genetically-different species may look remarkably similar. Biologists called these called cryptic species. Cryptic species pose several consequences to our understanding of what is a species, but also represent challenges to non-fundamental fields of science such as medicine (e.g. the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, the vector for malaria, is a complex of cryptic species and not every species transmits malaria). My thesis focused on the Stygocapitella subterranea ghost-worm since this species was first described as cosmopolitan (living all over the world) but unable to disperse easily, however, another possibility was that it comprised multiple species. I found: 1) 8 new Stygocapitella species to science; 2) some of which are undistinguishable. 3) some indistinguishable species have diverged more than 100 million years ago; 4) nearly all new species are confined to a single coastline. These results contribute to our understanding of how cryptic species evolve in terms of their morphology (shape), and how they disperse. Importantly, they reveal that cryptic species may interfere with our understanding of the natural world.

    • Contact: Elisabeth Aronsen
      Organizer: Natural History Museum


Natural History Museum
Published May 20, 2020 7:36 AM - Last modified May 27, 2020 3:05 PM