|The Valdés' Lab research focuses on the systematics and biogeography of opisthobranch mollusks. Opisthobranch mollusks, or seaslugs, are a diverse group of almost exclusively marine, hermaphroditic organisms. Sea slugs are closely related to pulmonate gastropods (terrestrial snails and slugs) and display remarkable adaptations to different environmental conditions in the ocean. About 6,000 species are known worldwide but new species are constantly been discovered and named. A particularly rich source of new species is the deep sea, which remains largely unexplored.
One of the key factors in the evolutionary success of opisthobranchs is their trend towards the reduction or loss of the shell. In order to protect their exposed bodies, opisthobranchs have developed chemical defenses, which they obtain from their prey or synthesize on their own, as well some remarkable cases of warning colorations and mimicry. Because their morphological plasticity, opisthobranchs are an ideal subject to the study of evolution.
Lab location: Building 4 Room: 2-405 Phone: (909) 869-3005