Alejandro Martínez García
 MSC-IE Post doctoral fellow


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Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+39 0323 518363 (Telephone)
+39 0323 556513 (Fax)
Broad research specialisms: Evolution, Ecology, Biogeography, Zoology, Systematics. Aquatic subterranean ecosystems (anchialine caves, submarine caves, groundwater aquifers). Interstitial fauna. Phylogenetics, comparative methods, statistics, networks.
Research Interests:
My researchgate page.
Marie Curie ANCAVE project.
At the moment, I am working on aquatic subterranean environments, mainly anchialine systems, as models to investigate evolutionary processes affecting animal lineages. Anchialine systems are known throughout the world and consist of land-locked bodies of marine origin and partially isolated from the ocean. This isolation increases with distance from the sea and can be characterized as a gradient in the main ecological parameters (i.e. light, salinity, oxygen, water residence time). Anchialine systems consist of many caves, linked by a common geological history but displaying different ecological parameters due to their different distances from the ocean. Therefore, anchialine systems represent groups of discrete, numerous, geographically spread and varied entities that facilitate independent colonization events by marine biota, providing many independent replicates of comparable evolutionary processes.
My project has to main objectives:
Objective I is to identify common patterns across guilds or taxonomic groups of animals, the percentage of endemism and/or disharmony, as well as the degree of dependence on extrinsic (geological and ecological) and intrinsic (phylogenetic) factors, by applying macroecological and phylogenetic methods to large datasets. Dataset consists of a database comprising all published records on animals ocurring in water in the underworld. Some of this information is already at the World Register of Marine Species.
Objective II is to test several hypotheses to unmask these processes, such as area-related speciation/extinction, the appearance of key morphological innovations or niche conservationism versus niche evolution, by implementing phylogenetic comparative methods, and molecular clock analyses. 
Diversity, systematics and, evolution of microcoscopic, weird-looking  animals.
Partially in connection with my Marie Curie project, I am working on the systematics and evolution of several lineages of cave-dwelling and interstitial animals. This includes the previously known Archiannelida (several projects in collaboration with Assoc. Prof. Katrine Worsaae and Assoc. Prof. Maikon di Domenico), Kinorhyncha (together with Nuria Sánchez), Tanaidacea (with Alvaro García-Herrero), 'Danielopolina' ostracods (with Bill Humphreys), parasitic copepods (collaboration on a project by Slava Ivanenko and Diego Fontaneto) and general diversity of meiofauna in Santa Marta, Colombia (Grupo Miku, Universidad del Magdalena, Prof. Sigmer Quiroga). On these groups, we are working at different levels, ranging from species descriptions and morphological studies, combining different microscopical techniques (light, scanning and transmission electron, as well as confocal laser scanning microscopy) to phylogenetic, biogeographical and comparative analyses.
Conservation of the endangered species Munidopsis polymorpha and Morlockia ondinae in Lanzarote
The galatheid crab Munidopsis polymorpha and the remipede Morlockia ondinae have been declared as endangered by both Spanish and Canarian local laws. We are completing several projects in Lanzarote at the moment, hoping to better understand the current situation of these animals in order to propose more effective conservation measures. These projects involved the analyses of gut microbiomes and contents of several cave species using high-throughput sequencing technologies; performing network analyses on the communities at Los Jameos del Agua lake, as well as understanding the effect of the coins thrown in the lake by the tourists on the microscopic communities of eukaryotes and bacteria living there. More in this video. We are doing several of this research together with the team of allgenetics.
09/2004- 06/ 2009. Licenciatura in Biology (EquivalentMsC degree). University of La Laguna, Spain. Awarded as Best student in Zoology of the year.

01/2010-09/2013. PhD, Marine Biological Section, University of Copenhagen. (3.5 years). Project: “Evolution and adaptation of marine annelids in interstitial and cave habitats”: Assoc. Prof. Katrine Worsaae.

Research experience:

11/2004-06/2009. Department of Zoology, University of La Laguna (Spain). Undergraduate researcher under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Jorge Núñez Fraga.

02/2007- 07/2007. Department of Biology, University of the Azores (Portugal). Internship under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Ana Cristina Costa.

08/2008- 11/2008 Marine Biology Station, University of Copenhagen (Denmark). Internship under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Katrine Worsaae.

02/2012-04/2012. PMuseum of Comparative Anatomy, Harvard University, USA. Internship as PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Gonzalo Giribet.
01/2014-01/2016. Postdoctoral researcher, Marine Biological Section, University of Copenhagen. Project: “Meta-analysis on the origin of marine cave fauna- Insights on global ecological and evolutionary processes”. Carlsberg Foundation Grant, at the group of Assoc. Prof. Katrine Worsaae.
05/2016-010/2017. Postdoctoral researcher in the CNR-RFBR Italian-Russian bilateral agreement grant (RFBR grant 15-54-78061) to Diego Fontaneto and Viatcheslav Ivanenko on symbiosis, within the ISE-CNR, Verbania.
11/2017- now. Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (IF-EF), H2020 Program of the EU, number 745530 – “ANCAVE-Anchialine caves to understand evolutionary processes”
Extramural Activities:
When I am not working on the projects above, I use most of my time trying to prove the existence of fun combining both analytical and heuristic methods.


  • Á García-Herrero, N Sánchez, G García-Gómez, F Pardos, A Martínez. Two new stygophilic tanaidomorphs (Peracarida, Tanaidacea) from Canary Islands and southeastern Iberian Peninsula. Marine Biodiversity, 1-24
  • BC Gonzalez, A Martínez, E Borda, TM Iliffe, D Eibye‐Jacobsen, et al. Phylogeny and systematics of Aphroditiformia. Cladistics
  • Ping Liu, Lei Xu, Shao Lin Xu, Alejandro Martínez, Hua Chen, Dan Cheng, Henri Dumont, Bo-Ping Han, Diego Fontaneto (2018). Species and hybrids in the genus Diaphanosoma Fischer, 1850 (Crustacea: Branchiopoda: Cladocera), the “tropical Daphnia”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 118:369-378. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2017.10.016
  • BC Gonzalez, K Worsaae, D Fontaneto, A Martínez (in press). Troglomorphism in Annelida: anophthalmia and elongation of body appendages in cave scale worms (Aphroditiformia, Annelida). Zoologica Scripta. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12258
  • R Riera, J Núñez, O Monterroso and A Martínez (In press). Distribution of meiofaunal abundances in a marine cave complex with secondary openings and freshwater filtrations. Marine Biodiversity
  • A Martínez, K Worsaae, G Purschke. Protodrilidae Hatschek, 1888. Handbook of Zoology, 38
  • Ana Milena Lagos, María Victoria León, Sigmer Y Quiroga, Alejandro Martínez (in review). Interstitial annelids from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Revista de Biología Tropical
  • Katrine Worsaae, Gonzalo Giribet, Alejandro Martínez (in review). Phylogeny of Psammodrilidae, an enigmatic lineage of interstitial annelids. Invertebrate Systematics
  • Alejandro Martínez, Brett Gonzalez (in press). Research in anchialine caves: anchialine lava environments in Lanzarote as case of study. In Cave Ecology. Oana Teodora Moldavan, Lubomir Kovac and Stuart Halse (Eds). Springer Verlag


  • BC Gonzalez, HCB Petersen, M Di Domenico, A Martínez, M Armenteros, et al. Phylogeny and biogeography of the scaleless scale worm Pisione (Sigalionidae, Annelida. Ecology and Evolution 7(9):2894-2915
  • BC Gonzalez, A Martínez, E Borda, TM Iliffe, D Fontaneto, K Worsaae. Genetic spatial structure of an anchialine cave annelid indicates connectivity within-but not between-islands of the Great Bahama Bank. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 109:259-270
  • A Martínez, K Kvindebjerg, TM Iliffe, K Worsaae. Evolution of cave suspension feeding in Protodrilidae (Annelida). Zoologica Scripta 46(2):214-226
  • A Martínez, G Purschke, K Worsaae. Protodrilidae Hatschek, 1888. Handbook of Zoology, 38
  • N Sánchez, H Yamasaki, F Pardos, MV Sørensen, A Martínez. Morphology disentangles the systematics of a ubiquitous but elusive meiofaunal group (Kinorhyncha: Pycnophyidae). Cladistics 1:1-27
  • A Martínez, K Kvindebjerg, TM Iliffe, K Worsaae (In press). Evolution of cave suspension feeding in Protodrilidae. Zoologica Scripta. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12198
  • V Gerovasileiou, A Martínez, F Álvarez, G Boxshall, WF Humphreys, D Jaume, LE Becking, G Muricy, PJ van Hengstrum, S Dekeyzer, W Decock, B Vanhoorne, L Vandeptte, N Bailly, TM Iliffe. World Register of Cave Species (WoRCS): a new Thematic Species Database from marine cave biodiversity. Research Ideas and Outcomes
  • F Gusmäo, M Di Domenico, C Amaral, A Martínez, BC Gonzalez, K Worsaae, J Ivar do Sul, PC Lana. In situ ingestion of microfibers by meiofauna from sandy beaches. Environmental Pollution. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.06.015
  • CH Petersen, BC Gonzalez, A Martínez, Katrine Worsaae. New species of Pisionidens (Sigalionidae, Annelida) from Akumal, México. Zootaxa 4136(1), 165-173
  • A Martínez, BC Gonzalez, J Núñez, H Wilkens, P Oromí, TM Iliffe, K Worsaae. Guide to the Anchialine Ecosystems of Jameos del Agua and Túnel de la Atlántida. Centro de Publicaciones del Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente. ISBN-13: 978-84-95938-92-3. 304 pages


  • K Worsaae, K Kvindebjerg, A Martínez. Morphology of a new interstitial Psammodrilus (Psammodrilidae, Annelida) from Sardinia, Italy. Zoologischer Anzeiger-A Journal of Comparative Zoology 259:13-21.
  • A Martínez, M Di Domenico, GW Rouse, K Worsaae. Phylogeny and systematics of Protodrilidae (Annelida) inferred with total evidence analyses. Cladistics 31:250-276
  • BC Gonzalez, HC Petersen, A Martinez, K Worsaae.Colonization and adaptation of scale worms to interstitial and anchialine habitats (Aphroditiformia, Annelida). Integrative and Comparative Biology 55:E68-E68


  • A Martinez, M Di Domenico, K Worsaae. Gain of palps within a lineage of ancestrally burrowing annelids (Scalibregmatidae). Acta Zoologica 95:421-429
  • M Di Domenico, A Martínez, ACZ Amaral, P da Cunha Lana, K Worsaae. Saccocirridae (Annelida) from the southern and southeastern Brazilian coasts. Marine Biodiversity 44:313-325
  • M Di Domenico, A Martínez, TCM Almeida, MO Martins, K Worsaae,et al. Response of the meiofaunal annelid Saccocirrus pussicus (Saccocirridae) to sandy beach morphodynamics. Hydrobiologia 734:1-16
  • M Di Domenico, A Martínez, P Lana, K Worsaae. Molecular and morphological phylogeny of Saccocirridae (Annelida) reveals two cosmopolitan clades with specific habitat preferences. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 75:202-218