The group was formed in 1988 with the aim of evaluating, from a conservation point of view, the biological diversity of different groups of animals – mainly reptiles and amphibians (see publications), but also in plant communities in arid and semi-arid zones (forests, shrublands, etc., see Mellado, 1989). In addition, the group carries out evaluation of environmental impact and conservation projects, both in species and natural habitats, protected or unprotected (Mellado, Allabou & Alaoui, 1988).
During the first phase of the development of the group, the work centred on the study of diversity patterns in aggregates (communities) of Mediterranean lizards (one of the groups of vertebrates which has received the most attention in this respect) with special emphasis on the latitudinal and altitudinal patterns of diversity on local, district and regional scales, in the transition between the temperate and desert climates of Europe (Iberian peninsula) and North Africa (Morocco), as well as in South America (Chile), in the framework of the Theory of Ecological Convergence among Ecosystems (Mellado, 1986).
More in-depth research has continued on the patterns of diversity at the regional scale (North Africa) in some groups (lacerated, sconces) particularly diverse and complex of reptiles and amphibians (Mellado & Dakki, 1988), with respect to certain environmental factors (Use of space – see Mellado & Olmedo 1981). In-depth research has also been carried out on some aspects where such diversity is apparent, like morphology (Mellado y Olmedo, 1990; Caputo y Mellado, 1992) or genetics (Caputo et al. 1993).
Currently, the group is carrying out a research project aimed at developing conservation guidelines for a species in danger of extinction, the common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) in Spain.