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Personal profile

Research interests

Graduated in Biology at the University of the Azores (2005), with an MSc in Shellfish Biology, Culture and Fisheries from Bangor University (2006) and a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from University of the Azores (2012). He is an Assistant Researcher at the Center for Functional Ecology (University of Coimbra, Portugal) and a Visiting Professor at the University of South Wales, UK. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Luis Cunha is a molecular ecologist specialised in soil biology. During his PhD, he found that studying the particular and unique features of the reducing environments of geothermal biotopes was most interesting because the ephemeral nature of the geothermal field is expected to favour the colonization by species with remarkable colonization abilities. The volcanically active soil in Azores offered an ideal “natural laboratory” to address such questions during his PhD project. He was awarded a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology in May of 2012. A brief interruption due to parenthood and some extenuating circumstances impacted his publication record (during 2012-2013). Since his PhD completion, he has published >2 papers per year, and he has been actively communicating scientific achievements in international conferences & meetings. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Currently, he is the joint-Director of the “Terra Preta de Indio” international network. He has published in a range of different speciality journals, in areas of ecotoxicology, invertebrate biology and soil biology with an impact factor, typically ranging between 4-5 (e.g. Scientific Reports, Heredity, Ecological Indicators). He certainly has several high-quality works in the pipeline that will lead to a substantial record in high impact publications. He has one seminal chapter on soil fauna biology and, currently, shows an H-index of 10. Moreover, he has shown an extensive track record in taking personal initiative to forge collaborations, which have facilitated his personal development and delivered innovative and exciting science allowing him to secure more than £1M in research income (80% as co-I and 20% as PI), over the last 5 years. His research projects included 1 post-doctoral researcher, 2 PhD students and he has supervised 6 MSc students and several undergraduate final year projects. He has spent long periods dwelling in Amazonia rainforest and in South African grasslands, preparing/ organising fieldwork and leading teams of both students and researchers (~20 members and 6 expeditions). ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ He has been invited to give some seminal talks in subjects such “The use of transcriptomics in Ecotoxicology” or for instance “Interculturality and knowledge in Life Sciences research”, which show how easy is for him to circulate around different research themes and public alike. The lack of funding for specific activities allowed him to engage with entrepreneurship and a case of crowdsourcing funding, which ended up featured in several media channels like Newsweek. He has also been an active reviewer (https://publons.com/a/149210), and he is a member of several societies such as SETAC, British Ecological Society, Systematic Biology Society, Society for the Study of Evolution and the International Society of Computational Biology.


  • QL Zoology
  • QH426 Genetics
  • QH301 Biology


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Amazonian earthworm biodiversity is heavily impacted by ancient and recent human disturbance

    Conrado, A. C., Demetrio, W. C., Stanton, D. W. G., Bartz, M. L. C., James, S. W., Santos, A., Silva, E., Ferreira, T., Acioli, A. N. S., Casadei Ferreira, A., Maia, L. S., Silva, T. A. C., Lavelle, P., Velasquez, E., Tapia‐coral, S. C., Muniz, A. W., Segalla, R. F., Decaëns, T., Nadolny, H. S., Peña‐Venegas, C. P., & 6 othersPasini, A., De Oliveira Júnior, R. C., TPI Network, Kille, P., Brown, G. & Cunha, L., 1 Oct 2023, In: Science of the Total Environment. 895, 13 p., 165087.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
  • Earthworm communities in long-term no-tillage systems and secondary forest fragments in Paraná, Southern Brazil

    Dudas, R. T., Demetrio, W. C., Maia, L. S., Sátiro, J. N. O., Silva, K. A., Nicola, V. B., Kille, P., Oliveira, C. M. R., Afonso, R. O., Russell, G., Ferreira, N. G. C., Cunha, L., Brown, G. G. & Bartz, M. L. C., 15 Mar 2023, In: Zootaxa. 5255, 1, p. 347-361 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Carbon and nitrogen storage and stability by mineral-organic association in physical fractions of anthropogenic dark earth and of reference soils in Amazonia

    Ramalho, B., Dieckow, J., de Freitas Melo, V., Gardner Brown, G., Luzia Simon, P., Alves Ibarr, M., Cunha, L., Kille, P. & TPI Network, 1 Jun 2022, In: Catena. 213, 106185.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Evidence confirms an anthropic origin of Amazonian Dark Earths

    Lombardo, U., Arroyo-Kalin, M., Schmidt, M., Huisman, H., Lima, H. P., de Paula Moraes, C., Neves, E. G., Clement, C. R., Aires da Fonseca, J., de Almeida, F. O., Vieira Alho, C. F. B., Bronk Ramsey, C., Brown, G. G., Cavallini, M. S., Lima da Costa, M., Cunha, L., Dos Anjos, L. H. C., Denevan, W. M., Fausto, C., Fernandes Caromano, C., & 40 othersFontana, A., Franchetto, B., Glaser, B., Heckenberger, M. J., Hecht, S., Honorato, V., Jarosch, K. A., Braga Junqueira, A., Kater, T., Tamanaha, E. K., Kuyper, T. W., Lehmann, J., Madella, M., Maezumi, S. Y., Matthews Cascon, L., Mayle, F. E., McKey, D., Moraes, B., Morcote-Ríos, G., Palheta Barbosa, C. A., Magalhães, M. P., Prestes-Carneiro, G., Pugliese, F., Pupim, F. N., Raczka, M. F., Py-Daniel, A. R., Riris, P., Cigaran da Rocha, B., Rodrigues, L., Rostain, S., Macedo, R. S., Shock, M. P., Sprafke, T., Stampanoni Bassi, F., Valle, R., Vidal-Torrado, P., Villagrán, X. S., Watling, J., Weber, S. L. & Teixeira, W. G., 1 Jun 2022, In: Nature communications. 13, 1, 6 p., 3444.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    3 Downloads (Pure)
  • Molecular insights into high altitude adaption and acclimatisation of Aporrectodea caliginosa

    Perry, I., Hernadi, S. B., Cunha, L., Short, S., Spurgeon, D., Orozco-Terwengel, P., Marchbank, A. M. & Kille, P., 1 Nov 2022, In: Life Science Alliance. 5, 11, 12 p., 01513.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    11 Downloads (Pure)