Daniela Ferreira Santos Souza Costa

PhD candidate in the group of Prof. Walter Salzburger

Current Research


As biologist graduated at the Brazilian littoral, my interests always surrounded the biology of aquatic life, and over the years I have been able to translate my fascination for nature into a research career in the fields of wildlife conservation, evolutionary biology, molecular ecology and population genomics. During my internship and master’s I investigated seafood mislabeling in the southern Flounder, discovering several mismatches on sequences databases that created erroneous phylogenetic inferences, which I corrected by building an accurate integrated molecular database. In addition, some of my work has focused on the identification of the conservation status of two vulnerable Flounder species explained by overfishing and ultimately caused by poorly planned fishing policies, culminating in an effective change on label regulations that better reflect this species conservation status.

During my PhD in the Salzburger group, I am interested in how genetic diversity of cichlid fishes is shaped during the millions of years of species diversification. Genetic diversity is of paramount importance for adaptation and long-term species survival, including adaptation to environmental changes, especially in order to resist to the increasing anthropogenic impacts. However, the importance of diverse life history traits and demographic processes in shaping this genetic diversity – and thus impacting adaptation and survival – are not yet fully understood. Using both life history traits and genomic population data of at least 30 species of cichlid fishes, representing all the different tribes from African Lake Tanganyika, I will initially investigate how the species population’s structure and size fluctuate along their diversification to determine the impact of past environmental perturbations onto genetic diversity and its role in the incredibly diverse cichlids traits specialization.

Curriculum Vitae

2022 -

PhD candidate in Zoology, University of Basel (UniBas), Switzerland

Origination and maintenance mechanisms of genetic diversity of cichlid fishes from African Lake Tanganyika, Advisors: Walter Salzburger and Julia MI Barth

2020- 2022

Scientific technician position at National Center for Fisheries Molecular Identification (CENIMP), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil

2018 – 2020 MRes Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology – Distinction with the maximum grade Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
Flounder mislabelling metanalysis, from supply chain categories to label regulations and market price, which factors influence the fish fraud occurrence, Advisor: Antonio Solé-Cava
2018- 2021 BSc.(Hons 1st class degree) Teaching Biology at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
2014-2018 BRes.(Hons 1st class degree) Genetics – Cum Laude degree at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
2016 – 2018 Scientific Internships at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ
 Daniela Ferreira Santos Souza Costa