My research addresses large-scale patterns in ant biogeography and diversification, with a focus on Melanesia, the hyperdiverse crossroads for Australian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Island lineages. By reconstructing the evolutionary history of ants in this region, I aim to clarify evolutionary relationships among extant species, and learn the context of their diversification and thus gain insight into how and when they came to occupy their current geographic ranges. Using both molecular phylogenetics techniques and classical morphological approaches, my work takes advantage of the tremendous diversity of ants to investigate evolutionary history in one of the most geologically and biologically complex regions on earth. Beyond improving our knowledge of the biotic history of this region, these questions have implications for biodiversity conservation. By assessing the utility of ants as indicators for assessing conservation priorities, and producing user-friendly taxonomic keys to target groups, ant research is proving to be useful in evaluating habitats of concern.
Ward Lab, Briggs Hall Rm. 381
Department of Entomology
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: Lab: 530-752-9977 Cell: 415-699-7350