My lab is engaged in several research projects investigating evolution and ecology in butterflies and other organisms. These projects combine ecological field experiments with molecular genetics techniques to test hypotheses on the causes of biodiversity (i.e. differentiation, divergence and speciation). The philosphy underlying these projects is simple: intra- and interspecific differentiation can not be fully understood without examining patterns at multiple levels. These levels include: genetics, ecology, geography, morphology and behavior. The unifying theme of most of these research projects is the question: what maintains variation within and among populations? Part of this research concerns quantification of patterns of diversity, including morphological, behavioral and genetic diversity. The rest of this research concerns testing of hypotheses on the mechanisms that create and maintain this diversity. Factors include contemporary ecological interactions (e.g. animal-plant interactions) as well as historical and/or biogeographic factors (e.g. Pleistocene climate changes). Consequently, these projects integrate methods and ideas from various fields, including: phylogenetics, population genetics, phylogeography, molecular genetics, plant-insect interactions, morphometrics, behavioral ecology and evoutionary ecology.
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