Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology Research Group

Marko Mutanen

Marko Mutanen

PhD, Docent, Researcher

Contact information

University of Oulu
Department of Biology
P.O. Box 3000
FI-90014 University of Oulu
E-mail: firstname.lastname@oulu.fi
Tel: + 358 (0)8 553 1256

Current research interests

1. DNA barcoding in species identification and delimitation
DNA barcodes are short fragments of genome that facilitate species identification and are useful in species delimitation and revealing cryptic diversity. I am coordinating the Finnish barcoding project (FinBOL) with over 130 taxonomy specialists involved in barcoding animals, plants and fungi occurring in Finland. FinBOL is one of the national nodes in the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) initiative, which is the largest genomic biodiversity project ever undertaken. FinBOL aims at creating a comprehensive DNA barcode library for all eukaryotic Finnish organisms. I am especially focusing on Lepidoptera (butteflies and moths) and Coleoptera (beetles). My research focuses primarily on general scientific issues of DNA barcoding concept, such as usefulness of DNA barcodes in identifying species, geographic patterns of barcode variability and use of barcodes in delimiting species, but I am also working on several problematic species complexes and therefore resolving specific taxonomic issues. These studies are conducted in wide international collaboration with researchers all over the World.

2. Molecular phylogenetics of Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is one of the most species rich groups of all organisms, but phylogenetic affinities between major lepidopteran groups have remained largely unresolved. Our studies have clarified the picture considerably. This research, conducted in wide collaboration, has concentrated on clarifying Lepidoptera phylogeny as a whole. I have also been working on phylogeny of several groups of Lepidoptera, such as Geometridae (loopers), Gelechioidea (a megadiverse micromoth group) and butterflies. I have concentrated on molecular side of the research, but also morphological approach is used by collaborators.

3. Geometric morphometrics in taxonomy
Geometric morphometrics is a method that enables quantitative analyses of shape. It is a powerful method is revealing even slight differences in shapes and is therefore useful in taxonomic questions, such as differentiating closely related species. I have used geometric morphometrics in examining the extent and nature of genitalic variation in Lepidoptera, but also in examining shape differences between closely related taxa. Genital characters are very useful in differentiating species because of their generally rapid divergent evolution.


I am teaching the following courses:
Animal identification
Evolution, systematics and structure of organisms


I am currently supervising the following two doctoral students:
M. Sc. Mikko Pentisaari, University of Oulu, thesis subject: DNA barcodes and species delimitation in Staphylinidae beetles
M. Sc. Mari Kekkonen, University of Helsinki, thesis subject: Phylogeny and classification of Hypertrophinae moths

Recent publications

ZAHIRI, R., HOLLOWAY, J.D., KITCHING, I.J., LAFONTAINE, D., MUTANEN, M. & WAHLBERG, N. 2011. Molecular phylogenetics of Erebidae (Lepidoptera, Noctuoidea). — Systematic Entomology, in press. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2011.00607.x

HEIKKILÄ, M., KAILA, L., MUTANEN, M., PENA, C. & WAHLBERG, N. 2011. Cretaceous origin and repeated Tertiary diversification of the redefined butterflies. — Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B Biological Sciences, doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1430.

KAILA, L., MUTANEN, M. & NYMAN, T. 2011. Phylogeny of the megadiverse Gelechioidea (Lepidoptera): adaptations and determinants of success. — Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.08.016.

SIHVONEN, P., MUTANEN, M., KAILA, L., BREHM, G., HAUSMANN, A. & STAUDE, H. S. 2011. Comprehensive molecular sampling yields a robust phylogeny for geometrid moths (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). — PLoS One 6(6): e20356. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020356

MUTANEN, M., WAHLBERG, N. & KAILA, L. 2010. Comprehensive gene and taxon coverage elucidates patterns of radiation of moths and butterflies. — Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B Biological Sciences 277: 2839—2848.

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