My research focus is on biology and ecology of benthic invertebrates, particularly ascidians, sponges and sea urchins. My taxonomic expertise is on ascidians, and they are my favourite beasts. Sponges and sea urchins came later, but earned their place in my heart, too.
My main fields are population dynamics, population genetics, reproductive biology, invasion biology, chemical ecology, and larval biology. I am fascinated by the way species and populations adapt to their environment, interact with each other, and are able to disperse from place to place. With the use of both traditional approaches and new genetic tools, I try to address pressing issues such as uncovering the cryptic biodiversity of benthic communities, assessing connectivity between populations, studying mechanisms of adaptation, competition and interaction, and analysing the dynamics and impacts of introduced species.
What I love most is to dive and see the animals directly. Having done so for decades in the Mediterranean and other seas, I can’t help having a deep sense for conservation issues. I have witnessed how communities changed, introduced species arrived, and human activities ruined some areas. Only a deep knowledge of the natural history of communities and species can allow efficient and meaningful conservation efforts.