Research in my lab is phylogenetics oriented. With a phylogenetic framework, we evaluate biodiversity and other important evolutionary issues.
Applications of Phylogenetic Information in Biodiversity Assessment
Phylogenetic information is crucial to assess biodiversity and prioritize our conservation efforts, and the use of molecular data in retrieving such information is one of the fastest growing areas in biology. My research program has employed Tibetan amphibians as a model system. The objectives of this program are to:
- identify lineages of high conservation priority
- determine natural population structure;
- probe the causes of diversification patterns and processes
- establish regional conservation priorities
Speciation Processes and Molecular Phylogenetics
The most fundamental unit of biodiversity is the species, and understanding the speciation process is the key for understanding biodiversity. Phylogenetic analysis creates opportunities to look at species from an historical and evolutionary perspective, and molecular data provide a capacity to examine history at multiple levels, such as genes, populations and species. My research program in this area targets the boundary between populations and species, where speciation takes place, by testing genealogical hypotheses and determining levels of gene flow among populations. I have chosen two model systems, salamanders of the genus Batrachuperus and sand lizards of the genus Phrynocephalus. Phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequence data are used to define lineages and establish relationships among them. Allozyme and microsatellite DNA data are employed to examine gene flow among lineages.