Professor Ciro Rico

Title: Professor

School: School of Marine Studies

Email: ciro.rico(at)

Email: Phone: +679 32 32933

Fax: 323 1526

Personal Page(Click Here)


Brief Curriculum Vitae

  • Thirty years of research and academic experience in the fields of biology, evolution, evolutionary genetics and molecular ecology
  • Professor of Marine Sciences at USP since Dec 2013
  • Former faculty member in two world-class universities in Canada and the United Kingdom (ranked in the top 2% worldwide).
  • Former senior scientist of Spanish Scientific Research Council (ranked in the top 0.15% of research centres worldwide)
  • Author of 73 WoS indexed publications cited over 3500 times; h-index = 35
  • Editorial board member of Scientific Reports
  • Coordinator of 2 large European funded projects
  • Principal Investigator of 16 projects and senior co-investigator of 13 more
  • Supervisor of 10 postdoctoral fellows, 12 PhD and 14 MSc students
  • Leader of the Molecular Analytics Lab at former institutions
  • Leader of the Oceans and Natural Resources SRT at USP
  • Head of the School of Marine Studies at USP
  • Author or co-author of 30 successful grant applications worth over €4 million
  • Leader/co-leader/supervisor of thirty successful research grants and seven fellowships from 17 prestigious funding bodies from Canada, UK, Mexico, USA, the European Union and Spain.

Current Research Program


To achieve sustained long-term research programs in marine sciences and to promote excellent, consequential and multidisciplinary scientific research in all areas of the School of Marine Studies expertise which is novel, timely, ambitious, and transformative and at the forefront of science at regional and international level.


  • To achieve excellence in research by addressing consequential and multidisciplinary scientific questions which appreciate the distinctiveness and richness of the Pacific Islands, culture, environment and biodiversity.
  • To contribute effectively to the sustainable use and governance of the PIC’s natural resources for the advancement, prosperity and development of the people and for the conservation of its rich biodiversity and environment.
  • To prepare human resources capable of generating excellent scientific data and use such information for making informed and rational decisions based on factual evidence for the welfare of people and nature of PICs.
  • To increase the visibility of university research and to inform the public about its importance for the management and conservation of the PICs’ natural resources.
  • To attract more international students as a result of the growing reputation of USP as a centre of excellence for research and knowledge creation in Oceania.

Three areas constitute the fundamental focus of Prof Rico research program. First, by combining ecological and evolutionary genetics data and theory, he studies the mechanisms responsible for generation and maintenance of biodiversity. Secondly, he studies the spatial and temporal genetic structure of populations of marine taxa with the aim to contribute to the decision making process concerning the delineation of the boundaries of evolutionary significant and management units and to determine connectivity and gene flow patterns in the ocean with the aim to assist the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. Finally, he is interested in understanding the relationship between functional genetic diversity and neutral genetic diversity. Understanding the extent to which functional genetic variation is affected by processes known to affect neutral diversity is central to this (i.e. it is important to examine the relative roles of genetic drift and selection in maintaining variation at functional loci). It is also important in conservation science and in evolutionary biology to assess the extent to which populations are locally adapted.

Current Specific Objectives

  • To conduct population genomics of the four principal market tuna species (albacore, Thunnus alalunga; bigeye, T. obesus; yellowfin, T. albacares; and skipjack, Katsuwonus pelamis) in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO)
  • To test the hypothesis that “tuna populations follow a metapopulation dynamics model with clearly differentiated management and evolutionary significant units focusing on their adaptive divergence and connectivity”.
  • To document the spatial and temporal structure of stocks, their adaptive divergence and the genetic connectivity between these biological and management units.
  • To characterise the neutral and adaptive genetic diversity and structure of skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tunas.
  • To develop a high throughput genotyping platform to assign unambiguously, tuna products to their geographic and/or population of origin.
  • To validate the developed tools by conducting blind tests on samples collected from different stocks in the WCPO.
  • To determine if bull and scalloped hammerhead shark nursery areas significantly differentiate samples from ecologically different embayments
  • To establish if are there significant differences in the number of females that give birth and/or in the survival rate of the young-of-the-year (YOY) from different cohorts in different nursery areas.
  • To establish trough kinship analysis the reproductive ecology of bull and scalloped hammerhead sharks in the Rewa River and Delta and determine the mating system of both species.
  • To characterise the neutral and adaptive genetic diversity and structure and determine if the loci under selection reveal a different population genetic structure than that of neutral markers in these shark species.
  • To determine if genetic diversity found in the WCPO supports a metapopulation dynamics model for these sharks.

My Publication and Citations