Dr. Christoph Schubart


Universität Regensburg
Institut für Zoologie
D-93040 Regensburg

Tel. --49 941 943 3093

Room 3.0.31

Christoph Schubart


Curriculum Vitae


Scientific Interests:

My main research interests center around the evolution, ecology, and behaviour of decapod Crustacea, with an emphasis on the combined use of morphological and molecular data to address systematic, phylogeographic, and ecological questions. Our study group is currently working on the following research projects:

1) Phylogeny and taxonomy of selected decapod superfamilies.
Genetic and morphological (adult and larval) comparisons of different brachyuran taxa have revealed that current composition of many superfamilies, families and genera does not agree with their phylogenetic relationships. My current phylogenetic research is devoted to brachyuran families comprised within the Thoracotremata and the superfamilies Portunoidea, Cancroidea and Xanthoidea. Results shall contribute to the definition of taxonomic units reflecting phylogenetic relationships and thus to contribute to the construction of the tree of life.

2) Adaptive radiation of land crabs from the Greater Antilles: ecological mechanisms and intraspecific plasticity
(funded by DFG Schu 1460/3 as part of SPP1127). In this project, the phylogeny, ecology, and population genetics of endemic freshwater and terrestrial crabs of Jamaica and the other Greater Antilles Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico are compared. In Jamaica, ten described (probably more) species of crabs belonging to the family Sesarmidae thrive in complete independence from the sea, colonising exceptional freshwater or terrestrial habitats such as limestone caves, bromeliad leaf axils, and empty shells of land snails. We are studying genetic and morphological differentiation between crab populations as well as the behaviour and the evolution of social systems (see research Luise Heine) of these recent land-dwellers. In contrast, the land crab fauna of the other Greater Antilles (family Pseudothelphusidae, genus Epilobocera) appears genetically and ecologically impoverished. The mechanisms favouring the onset of adaptive radiations are investigated (see research Tobias Santl).

3) Endemism in partly isolated ocean basins, as exemplified by Decapoda of the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
Molecular and morphological markers are being used to compare the crustacean fauna of the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico with the one from adjacent regions in the Atlantic. Endemism in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico is far more pronounced than presently reported and appears partly due to Pliocene and Pleistocene shifts in seal level and water currents. Molecular analyses facilitate the recognition of these endemisms and emphasize the need for protection of marine habitats in the Mediterranean (see research Silke Reuschel) and northern Gulf of Mexico. Comparisons are extended to include decapod populations from the eastern tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean and tropical eastern Pacific to contrast transisthmian differentiation on both sides of the Panama landbridge with amphi-Antlantic differentiation.

4) Radiations and phylogeography of Eurasian terrestrial and freshwater Decapoda
(funded by DFG Schu 1460/6). In Europe and Asia, several different lineages of decapod Crustacea have colonised freshwater and terrestrial habitats. While several species of astacid crayfish are common in streams and lakes all over Europe, freshwater crabs of the genus Potamon are restricted to Italy and southeastern Europe. We are investigating population genetics and ecology of the stone crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium in and around Germany and of the crab Potamon fluviatile in Italy and Greece. In tropical Asia, a much more diverse fauna of freshwater crabs (superfamilies Potamoidea and Gecarcinucoidea) is present. In the ancient lakes of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a number of parathelphusine crabs and atyid shrimps (see reserach Kristina Zitzler) have experienced a recent radiation with ecological specialisation. The colonisation history of Asia by gecarcinucoid crabs (see research Sebastian Klaus) and of the ancient lakes in Sulawesi (see research Peter Koller) are studied to understand historic migration patterns and incipient speciation after colonistaion of new habitats in these freshwater crabs.