Martha N. & John C. Moser Professor of Arthropod Biosystematics and Biodiversity; Director & Curator of the Cornell University Insect Collection
As an organismal evolutionary biologist I am interested in the role of diversification, biogeography, and symbiosis in shaping macroevolutionary processes to better understand broad-scale evolutionary patterns of life. Studying the evolution of ants forms part of my general interest in the origin and evolution of species. To accomplish these goals I leverage molecular and genomic tools to address the origin of species and how co-evolved systems benefit both partners. Phylogenetic reconstruction can be a powerful tool to infer evolutionary relationships and I am interested in how we can use those resulting phylogenies to inform larger-scale evolutionary patterns and processes, including why species are found where they are (biogeography), how long they have been there (divergence dating), what factors may have promoted their diversification (comparative methods), how species interactions shape the evolutionary history of both players (co-diversification and microbiome analysis). My research interests range from functional aspects of host-symbiont interactions, to population level questions involving phylogeography and the effects of climate change, to higher-level phylogenetic questions and measurements of the diversification and biogeography of insect lineages. Overall, I am interested in understanding the origin and evolution of species, and how abiotic factors and species interactions drive diversity.
I am interested in the origin, evolution, and adaptation of species and maintenance of symbioses, and in particular, how different factors may influence patterns of diversification. More specifically I am interested in how we can use diverse tools including molecular methods, next-generation sequencing, and comparative genomics with field-based research to address these questions. My research interests range from population and species level questions concerning biogeography and the effect of geologic and climatic oscillation events to higher-level phylogenetic questions regarding diversification of lineages to the role that host-associated microbes play in the ecology and evolution of insects. My research program is organismal-based and aims to integrate data from diverse disciplines such as genetics, genomics, entomology, ecology, and geography to address questions of how biological and physical processes interact to drive evolution. Although my work relies in large part on inferring molecular phylogenetic trees in a model-based statistical framework, my interest includes how we can use those trees to inform larger-scale evolutionary patterns. These questions include why species are found where they are, how long they have been there, what factors may have promoted their diversification, how species interactions shape the evolutionary history of both players, and how this may inform us about broader evolutionary questions outside of the focal taxonomic group alone including modern issues like invasive species, climate change, and conservation. By uncovering the diversity and putative function of host-associated microbes we may begin to understand how these interactions are driving the evolution of both partners. Much of my research focuses on gut-associated bacteria in the ants. By coupling this information with data on diet, trophic ecology, evolutionary history and biogeography, I hope to gain a better understanding of how intimate interactions influence patterns of diversity.
For a complete list see: http://www.moreaulab.entomology.cornell.edu/publications/