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Soon + info here on current invasive carp research -stay tuned!

-Under construction- 09/14/2022

Biodiversity

How multiple species originate and co-occur remains a long-lasting enigma in evolutionary ecology. Biodiversity gradients in which most species are endemic represent natural experiments where we can test alternative hypotheses and gain key insights into the complex processes that lead to the buildup of species richness.

For my PhD dissertation research, I have conducted replicated fish surveys along the bathymetric gradient in Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, to examine how the ecological context, particularly energy availability, shapes morphological divergence and species richness at a community level using phylogenetic methods (in prep.). This research has unveiled that high-energy areas in shallow waters harbor both elevated community trait diversity and greater endemic species richness via the disproportionate accumulation of rare species.

My research interests also involve conducting field and laboratory-based experiments that serve as “proof of concept” for available theory in evolutionary ecology. For instance, I have experimentally tested whether predators can help maintain a color-polymorphism in Nicaraguan cichlid fishes for my master’s thesis. More recently, I have piloted behavioral assays testing for intraspecific aggression biases that could help mediate coexistence of sympatric and congeneric fishes in Lake Tanganyika (in prep.). An idea I am particularly drawn to is the context-dependent nature of specialization, and how food resource availability may shape the evolution of specialized foraging strategies.

Lastly, using genomic data sets (genotyping-by-sequencing) paired with phenotypic data, I have identified patterns of population genetic differentiation across multiple species of Lake Tanganyikan cichlid fishes (in prep.). Results of this study have provided fascinating insights into the commonalities underlying the process of population divergence and color morph persistence in this exceptional radiation. Moreover, a deeper understanding of the relationship between spatial genetic structure and diversity accumulation at higher organizational levels may be vital to the effective conservation of East African cichlid fishes, as well as other biodiverse, threatened aquatic fauna. Thus, my research aims to obtain a mechanistic understanding of both the origins and maintenance of phenotypic diversity, below and above the level of a species.

Publications

My Google scholar contains an up-to-date list of my scientific publications so far. Please contact me if you would like access to a pdf of any of these. *A Nature News and Views write-up of one of my publications written by Dr. Sebastian Kruppert and Dr. Adam Summers can be found here.