When we think of the tropics, we often think of the stunning number of species that it harbors. For example, in a couple of acres of rainforest in South America, you may find hundreds of different species of trees, while a comparable size of temperate forest in North America may only contain ten to thirty species. Similarly, there are a dozen species of hummingbirds in North America but over 100 species in South America. As such, the tropics, even before the time of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, have been thought of as the cradle of earth’s species diversity. Although true, we cannot forget that with this great diversity in number of species comes even greater diversity in physical traits, behavior and interactions. It is this amazing diversity of the tropics that captures the interest of our lab group.
Our group aims to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape life in the tropics. Why are some animals social while others are solitary? Why are some animals colorful while others are dull? What creates then maintains the great diversity in the tropics? How can we conserve this great diversity in the face of deforestation and climate change? To tackle these questions and challenges, we work across the globe, using an interdisciplinary approach that combines long-term field observations and experiments with genomic and neuroethological tools. We use a variety of organisms as model systems, ranging from insects to spiders to birds, throughout the Old and New World Tropics.
For details on our academic and conservation work, follow the links to the left.