Poster Evolution 2019

Research

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Divergence Time Estimation, a methodology that combines fossil record and molecular data, is how biologists time travel. But like the fictional time travel the biological time travel is extremely sensitive to parameter choice (including fossils used).I have been studying the local and global effects of fossils using an empirical data set, insect transcriptome phylogeny generated by the 1KITE (One Thousand Insect Transcriptome Evolution) consortium. My work shows that fossil calibrations can have a very strong effect on the estimated age of the node that they calibrate, while the presence of other calibrations throughout the tree might have minimal effect on neighboring nodes in the tree.

I started my work on Arctic dragonflies by studying dragonfly Somatochlora sahlbergi, considered to be the northernmost dragonfly species, primarily distributed in the circumboreal region. Most of the populations for this species is distributed along and above the treeline. This species has been largely understudied because of its habitat, yet populations of S. sahlbergi are threatened because of global warming. My collaborators and I have done some incredible field work in the Arctic (in Yukon Territory, Alaska, Sweden, Finland and Norway) to sample this species across its range.

I use systematics to study biodiversity in dragonflies with a focus on dragonfly family Aeshnidae, a group that comprises of some of the largest dragonflies. I have particularly concentrated on two genera in this family, Boyeria and Aeshna. Boyeria is distributed in United States, Canada and across the countries around the Mediterranean. My work showed that Boyeria cretensis, found on the island of Crete and Boyeria irene, distributed on mainland Europe and Africa around the Mediterranean, were indeed different species.

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