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I received a Ph.D. in Biology from the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI) in 2007. The official title is “Diplôme de Docteur”, the subject area “Diversité du Vivant” and my specialty is Behavioural Ecology.
I am currently working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC), in the Integrative Behavioural Biology Group. I am also an external collaborator at the Evolutionary Ecology Group of cE3c.
I carry out research on animal communication and learning, in the areas of Behavioural Ecology and Neuroethology. I use an information-driven approach to Animal Behaviour and Evolution to study animal decision-making during mate, food and habitat decisions. I am interested in studying how, in what circumstances and with what consequences animals use the information that they acquire from other individuals (social information, through social learning), compared to their use of other types of information, like their natural preferences (genetic information, through innate responses) and personal experience (personal information, through individual learning).
My research is driven by three overarching objectives: 1) ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR: the study of the biological and ecological conditions under which the use of social information is adaptive and how can it impact species evolution; 2) BEHAVIOURAL NEUROBIOLOGY: the study of the underlying cognitive mechanisms by which animals acquire and use social information in different contexts; and 3) CONSERVATION BEHAVIOUR: the study of social information use in contexts that could be relevant to conservation problems.
To address these goals, I use experimental, theoretical and conceptual approaches, using fish, fruit flies, spider mites, birds, mice and primates as model organisms. The main ongoing project I am currently pursuing is the artificial selection in zebrafish for high and low sociality lines, in order to test if sociality drives social cognition.
For more information on my research and pubications see: https://sites.google.com/site/idabelab/home
Sapage, M. & Varela, S.A.M. (2020) Two research avenues for future mate-choice copying studies: a comment on Davies et al..Behavioral Ecology, Online early, . DOI:10.1093/beheco/araa075 (IF2019 2,761; Q2 Behavioral Sciences)
Carvalho, C., Varela, S.A.M., Bastos, L.F., Orfão, I., Beja, V., Sapage, M., Marques, T.A., Knight, A. & Vicente, L. (2019) The relevance of in silico, in vitro and non-human primate based approaches to clinical research on major depressive disorder.ATLA- Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 47(3-4), 128-139. DOI:10.1177/0261192919885578 (IF2019 0,780; Q4 Medicine, Research & Experimental)
Varela, S.A.M., Matos, M. & Schlupp, I. (2018) The role of mate-choice copying in speciation and hybridization.Biological Reviews, 93, 1304-1322. DOI:10.1111/brv.12397 (IF2018 10,288; Q1 Biology)
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