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Nicolas Chazot

Nicolas Chazot
I am an Associate Senior Lecturer in Molecular Ecology at the Department of Ecology (SLU, Uppsala), within the Insect Ecology Unit. I am mainly interested in phylogenetics and biogeography to disentangle the origin and structure of biodiversity at large geographical and temporal scale.


My general interest lies in describing the origin and structure of biodiversity and identifying the ecological and evolutionary processes that operate at the scale of communities and ecosystems.  I am using a wide range of data – from DNA, phenotypes, fossil record, species distributions, and ecological information such as mutualistic interactions or host-plant – and a diversity of tools, combining for example, phylogenetics, biogeography, species distribution modelling, community ecology, comparative analyses and metabarcoding. 

Generating new phylogenetic resources at different geographic and taxonomic scale is a central part of my work. I have published for example a new estimation for the timing of origin and early diversification of butterflies (Chazot et al. 2019). More recently, I published with collaborators the species-level tree of Nymphalidae butterflies to explore the origin of the Latitudinal Diversity Gradient in butterflies, a project designed as the synthesis of the work achieved by the worldwide community of Lepidopterologists over the last 20 years (Chazot et al. 2021).

One of my key topic is tropical biodiversity. Combining time-calibrated phylogenies with species distribution data, ecological information and phenotypic data we can model past dynamics of speciation, extinction, dispersal, phenotypic evolution and assess their relative contribution the global and regional patterns of diversity. I have been working mainly on South-American and African biodiversity with a strong focus on the importance of climate change and landscape turnover during the Cenozoic in explaining the modern distribution of species (e.g. Bacon et al. 2022, Espeland et al. 2023, Chazot et al. 2019). 

I am also very interested in the importance of mutualistic interactions in shaping the structure of species assemblages. For this, I am using the Ithomiini butterflies as a model. These butterflies are remarkable for being very diverse (390 species endemic to the Neotropics) and for being engaged in mutualistic Müllerian mimicry, even inspiring both F. Müller and H. W. Bates in their descriptions of mimicry mechanisms (e.g. Aubier et al. 2017, Chazot et al. 2014, Doré et al. 2023). 

I recently started collaborating on two biodiversity monitoring programs, the Insect Biome Atlas and the LifePlan project. We are focusing on the arthropod communities, sampled via Malaise traps and identified using metabarcoding technologies. DNA metabarcoding has enabled large-scale biodiversity studies of groups containing considerable numbers of unknown taxa, such as insects. However, DNA metabarcoding usually yields large amounts of reads that algorithms fail to assign even at the highest taxonomic ranks. This genetic data that some authors have coined the “dark matter” of environmental DNA is mainly non-eukaryote DNA or belongs to poorly known sections of the tree of life and seem to increase in diverse localities such as tropical regions. We are using phylogenetic information to improve our taxonomic assignment and understand the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping insect biodiversity in these communities. 


I am course leader for the undergraduate course Organismvärlden where I also teach the "Evolution" module. At undergraduate level I am also currently teaching in the Trees and Forest Ecology course.

I am also teaching the "Conservation Genetics" module in the Master level course Forest Conservation Biology.

Selected publications

Bacon, CD, Silvestro, D, Hoorn, C, Bogotá-Ángel, G, Antonelli, A, & Chazot, N (2022). The origin of modern patterns of continental diversity in Mauritiinae palms: the Neotropical museum and the Afrotropical graveyard. Biology Letters, 18(11), 20220214.

Espeland, M, Chazot, N, Condamine, FL, Lemmon, AR, Lemmon, EM, Pringle, E, Heath, A, Collins, S, Tiren, W, Mutiso, M and Lees, DC (2023). Rapid radiation of ant parasitic butterflies during the Miocene aridification of Africa. Ecology and Evolution, 13(5), p.e10046.

Chazot, N, Condamine, F. L, Dudas, G, Peña, C, Kodandaramaiah, U, Matos-Maraví, P, Aduse-Poku, K, Elias, M, Warren, AD, Lohman, DJ, Penz, CM, DeVries, P, Fric, ZF, Nylin, S, Müller, C, Kawahara, AY, Silva-Brandão, KL, Lamas, G, Kleckova, I, Zubek, A, Ortiz-Acevedo, E, Vila, R, Vane-Wright, RI, Mullen, SP, Jiggins, CD, Wheat, CW, Freitas, AVL, & Wahlberg, N (2021). Conserved ancestral tropical niche but different continental histories explain the latitudinal diversity gradient in brush-footed butterflies. Nature communications, 12(1), 1-10.

Chazot, N, Blandin, P, Debat, V, Elias, M, & Condamine, F L (2021). Punctuational ecological changes rather than global factors drive species diversification and the evolution of wing phenotypes in Morpho butterflies. Journal of evolutionary biology, 34(10), 1592-1607.

Murillo-Ramos L, Chazot N, Sihvonen P, Õunap E, Jiang N, Han H, Clarke JT, Davis RB, Tammaru T, & Wahlberg N. (2021). Molecular phylogeny, classification, biogeography and diversification patterns of a diverse group of moths (Geometridae: Boarmiini). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 162, 107198.

van der Bijl W, Zeuss D, Chazot N, Tunström K, Wahlberg N, Wiklund C, Fitzpatrick JL, & Wheat CW. 2020. Butterfly dichromatism primarily evolved via Darwin's, not Wallace's, model. Evolution Letters, 4(6), 545-555.

Wiemers M, Chazot N, Wheat CW, Schweiger O, & Wahlberg N. 2020. A complete time-calibrated multi-gene phylogeny of the European butterflies. ZooKeys, 938, 97. DOI:10.3897/zookeys.938.50878.

Chazot N, Willmott KR, Lamas G, Freitas AVL, Piron-Prunier F, Arias CF, De-Silva DL, & Elias M. 2019. Renewed diversification following Miocene landscape turnover in a Neotropical butterfly radiation. Global Eology and Biogeography.

Chazot N, Wahlberg N, Freitas AVL, Mitter C, Labandeira C, Sohn JC, Sahoo KR, Seraphim Pereira N, de Jong R, & Heikkilä M. 2019. Priors and posteriors in Bayesian timing of divergence analyses: the age of butterflies revisited. Systematic Biology. syz002.

Chazot N, De-Silva DL, Willmott KR, Freitas AVL, Lamas G, Giraldo CE, Uribe S, & Elias M. 2018. Contrasting patterns of Andean diversification between two diverse clades of Neotropical clearwing butterflies. Ecology & Evolution, 8(8): 3965-3982.

Aubier T, Elias M., Llaurens V. & Chazot N. 2017. Mutualistic mimicry enhances species diversification through spatial segregation and extension of the ecological niche space. Evolution, 71 : 826–844.

Chazot N, Panara S, Zilberman N, Blandin P, Le Poul Y, Cornette R, Elias M, & Debat V. 2016. Morpho morphometrics: shared ancestry, microhabitat niche and sexual selection drive the evolution of wing shape and size. Evolution. 70:181-194. DOI:10.1111/evo.12842.

Chazot N, Willmott KR, de-Silva DL, Condamine F, Morlon H, Freitas AVL, Uribe S, Giraldo-Sanchez C, Lamas G, Joron M, Jiggins C, & Elias M. 2016. Multiple colonisations and local diversification explain Andean diversity in the Godyridina butterfly subtribe (Ithomiini). Molecular Ecology. 25 :5765-5784.

Chazot N, Willmott KR, Santacruz Endara PG, Toporov A, Hill RI, Jiggins CD, & Elias M. 2014. Mutualistic mimicry and filtering by altitude shape the structure of Andean butterfly communities. The American Naturalist. 183(1):26-39. DOI: 10.1086/674100.



Associate Senior Lecturer at the Department of Ecology; NJ, Insect Ecology Unit
Telephone: +46702543937, +46702543937
Postal address:
Inst för ekologi, Box 7044
756 51 UPPSALA
Visiting address: Ulls Väg 16, Uppsala