Insect diversity encompasses an immensely rich source of biological, ecological, and behavioural data, and within this sphere, tight associations between insects and plants provide fertile areas for research. My expertise lies in using systematics to understand speciation processes, diversification, and community assembly at small and larger scales, among highly host specific insect taxa. I use various approaches, including the application of morphology, genetics, and behaviour to study the evolutionary patterns and processes involved in insect-plant interactions on islands, particularly oceanic island chains that provide discrete, repeated units. Students can learn about the processes of species discovery, species description, phylogenetic analysis, interpretation of variation in the light of speciation processes, and the benefits of combining morphological and molecular data in the resolution of species concepts. There remain numerous oceanic islands, large and small, that have been little surveyed for diversity of insect-plant interactions, and there are also those well characterized systems (e.g. on the Hawaiian and Canary Islands) that require more in depth analysis of the mechanisms of speciation.
Personal Research Keywords
plant-insect interactions, species radiation, speciation, islands, phylogenetics, systematics