Flight Loss in Galapagos Coleoptera
The attainment of flight by insects has allowed them to diversify to an extent not seen in any other metazoan taxa. Alternatively, the relegation of flight to flightless dispersal ability has also led to a rise in species diversity in flightless insect lineages, presumably due to increased allopatric speciation events. Flight loss may be a factor driving species diversity across all insects, but there is a translational gap between described patterns of environmental and physiological factors associated with flight loss and the selective pressures that maintain or release flight apparatus phenotype. I am examining the fine scale forces governing flight apparatus phenotype using a dual approach in Galpagos Coleoptera: 1) Constructing computational fluid dynamic models of a gradient of wing loss to assess stability of a the leading edge vortex [LEV] in a natural system; 2) Evaluating patterns of gene expression correlated with LEV stability and flight capability.
Mountainsnails of the Pacific Northwest
Oreohelix from the lower Salmon River [LSR] drainages form one of the most diverse assemblages of land snails in the Pacific Northwest and continental United States. There are at least fourteen known undescribed species restricted to islands of limestone, marble, and dolomite that are pervasive throughout the LSR. I, and a host of undergraduates from the Parent lab, are spearheading a survey for new species in the LSR with the Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Fish and Wildlife, and the Nez Pierce Forestry service. Our goal is to provide well-supported species delimitation for conservation management officials and to investigate how the remarkable present species and phenotypic diversity arose through a morphometric and phylogenetic approach.