Speciation in a Landscape of Gene Flow
I am working to understand speciation in morphologically similar, geographically overlapping, and even hybridizing species. This work focuses on understanding the role of the baculum (the highly variable male genital bone in mammals) in promoting speciation, possibly via sexual selection. Using a near-globally distributed rodent group as a model (squirrels; Family Sciuridae), the project integrates phylogenomics, CT scanning of bacula, and phenotypic and biogeographic analyses to investigate landscape- and global-scale correlations between speciation and bacular evolution in this group.
Life History Evolution at Continental Scales
Life history traits vary greatly across mammals, but core climate and ecological drivers of these traits below the species level are often unknown. Using large bioinformatic datasets from digitized museum specimens and historic literature, I am mapping and analyzing variation in core life history traits (litter size, timing of breeding) in Peromyscus (deer mice) across North America. This approach is focused on relating continental-scale variation in these traits to the specific climatic and environmental parameters that are shaping them.
Comparative Phylogeography across the Mongolian Landscape
I am engaged in a suite of projects to understand the landscape genetics and phylogeography of rodents and their ectoparasites (mostly fleas) across the vast Central Asian region, particularly Mongolia. Compared to North American systems at comparable latitudes, impacts of past climate change on communities in this region are poorly known, as are the dynamics of host-parasite associations over time. This work uses genotype-by-sequencing approaches to compare and contrast landscape structure and connectivity across multiple co-distributed (but ecologically distinctive) mammal and flea species.
Ground Squirrel Speciation and Global Change
I am working to resolve the species-level phylogeny of ground-dwelling squirrels, a diverse group (> 90 species) of rodents distributed across North America and Asia. These projects use novel genomic-scale datasets (whole mitogenomes and UCEs) collected from museum samples to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and understand the structure and timing of ground squirrel diversification in relation to past climate warming and global expansion of grasslands.