Molecular Systematics

Currently: I am inferring evolutionary relationships within the butterfly tribe Danaini (Nymphalidae: Danainae) using anchored hybrid enrichment loci. The goal of this project is to develop a phylogenetic backbone for this group to enable downstream comparative work. Taxonomic sampling thus far has representation from ~80% of all described species including a never-before-sequenced genus.

Previously: I have explored the systematics of Neotropical damselflies which lead to the reclassification of genera and 3 species. I have also uncovered cryptic diversity within avian malaria parasites. 


Historical Biogeography

Currently: I am modelling the biogeographical history of the Danaini to understand how ancestral ranges have changed. I am particularly interested in Pleistocene sea level change and how it impacted distributions in the Indomalayan and Australasian biogeographical realms.

Previously: I have reconstructed the biogeographical history of Neotropical damselflies taking into account Andean orogeny and paleogeography.

Pictured on the left are the twelve Danaini genera (Anetia, Lycorea, Idea, Protoploea, Euploea, Tirumala, Danaus, Tiradelphe, Miriamica, Parantica, Ideopsis, and Amauris) and their extant distribution within the Biogeographic Realms/Ecozones. 

Island Biogeography

Currently: I am investigating how island isolation can structure morphological and genetic variation in the polymorphic Euploea mulciber butterfly. I am interested in understanding how Pleistocene eustasy impacted gene flow on Southeast Asian islands and whether this can influence the wide variety of wing patterns seen among its ~30 subspecies.

To the left is a heatmap depicting the variation among the different forewing patterns of the sexually dimorphic Euploea mulciber subspecies. The commonality of each motif for each sex is denoted by color. Green colors represent motifs commonly shared among different wing patterns.

Big Data and Museums

Currently: I am collecting and analyzing images of butterflies from natural history collections to understand intraspecific wing pattern variation in Euploea mulciber. Museums are a great resource for evolutionary biology research and these data will become more readily available thanks to digitization efforts, artificial intelligence, and advances in sequencing technologies.

Previously: I analyzed the metadata from a large-scale anchored phylogenomics project to explore the relationships between DNA sequence capture and specimen preservation method/age. I found evidence to support that Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) methods can reliably generate sequence data from older specimens (including museum specimens).