Convergent Evolution of Substrate Adaptation
One of the fundamental steps of evolution is the process of organism(s) to adapt to their environment. This phenomenon is well-documented in a number of organisms, with one of the most noteworthy examples being Anoles lizards. Similar to the wide array of ecological specificity and ecomorphological preferences in the Anoles, gekkonids have been considered the “Anoles” of the Old World. Using established statistical comparative methods and newly generated morphological and genomic data, I am addressing the following questions: 1) Is there an adaptive or a non-adaptive/rapid radiation in Rock Geckos of Southeast Asia? 2) Are there convergent regimes of substrate adaptation? and 3) Are there higher rates of speciation in clades that have a specific habitat preference?
Species delimitation and integrative taxonomy using genomic and morphological approaches
The processes of species discovery and delimitation in the genomic era are providing a plethora of tools to further our knowledge of diversity of life on Earth. However, with a vast amount of genomic data available, we are left with a limited number of tools for species delimitation that are computationally tractable. Moreover, recent advances in computational biology have already begun developing fast and accurate species delimitation methods which can accommodate large data sets. These methods are an integral part of integrative taxonomy and an important step in the processes of conservation biology. I am interested in using genomic and morphological data sets with newly developed methods to investigate species boundaries and gene flow in a number of amphibian and reptile species distributed across Southeast Asia.
Phylogenomics, Historical Biogeography, and Patterns of Diversification across Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia (SEA) is a vast an intriguing part of the world and is well known for its biodiversity hotspots (Indo-Burma, Sundaland, The Philippines, and Wallacea). In the 19 years of fieldwork I have conducted in SEA, my colleagues and I have amassed genetic material throughout these regions that is adequate to start investigating patterns and processes of diversification across continental and oceanic SEA, as well as ask fine-scale conservation genetic questions for the well-sampled lineages. For the early stages of this project, we have already started collecting genomic data from sequence capture and reduced representation libraries. These genomic libraries will be used to elucidate evolutionary relationships and estimate the demographic history and co-diversification across a number of amphibian and reptile groups dispersed across the highly dynamic biogeographic areas of SEA.
Conservation and Landscape Genomics of Karst terrains in Southeast Asia
The Thai-Malay Peninsula ranges from the southern portion of Myanmar, southwestern portions of Thailand, and extends south through West Malaysia, with its terminus in Singapore. This is a region that is geologically and biologically complex with numerous granitic mountain ranges interspersed with hundreds of isolated limestone karst formations. These karstic regions are known for having high levels of micro endemic species of flora and fauna. I’m interested in patterns on gene flow of micro endemic species of amphibians and reptiles on isolated karst formations dispersed throughout the Thai-Malay Peninsula, the Salween River Basin in Myanmar, as well as other areas in Southeast Asia.