How does the environment shape physiological tolerances?

I am interested in how thermal tolerance and performance is influenced by different evolutionary processes. In this project, I take an environmental approach to determine the influence of local adaptation, species-wide gene flow, and phylogenetic constraints on population-level thermal tolerances and performances. From comprehensive thermophysiological assays for three tropical montane lizard species and microclimate temperature data, I find that high elevation populations have thermophysiological traits that would perform better in the environments of their close relatives, suggesting a strong influence of phylogenetic processes. This is in collaboration with Miguel T. Rodrigues and Carlos Navas at Universidade de São Paulo.

How do environment + physiology shape genetic and functional diversity across a species' range?

The thermal environment can also shape patterns of genetic diversity throughout a species' range. Environmental heterogeneity can drive genetic and phenotypic diversification via divergent environmental selection, or by restricting dispersal through physiological unsuitable regions. To disentangle the roles of these two processes in driving intraspecific diversity, I integrate genetic, morphological, physiological and environmental data across the full range of a single species: Caparaonia itaiquara. For this, I'm collaborating with Jason Munshi-South at Fordham University. 

How are macro and micro environments linked?

We know that microclimates are incredibly important in determining species distributions, and can therefore influence patterns of genetic and phenotypic diversity. In collaboration with the labs of Kyle McDonald (CCNY) and Thiago Silva (UNESP Rio Claro, Brazil) through the AF Biota Project, we are integrating remote sensing data with measurements from dataloggers I deployed throughout the southern Atlantic Forest. Our goal is to develop a model of microclimates throughout the region that we can then use to test hypotheses about environmental heterogeneity and niche evolution.

How have historical climate events impacted genetic and functional diversity across a phylogeny?

Environmental heterogeneity across space and throughout time can also influence patterns of speciation and niche occupancy at a broader scale. To explore how historical environmental changes have shaped genetic and habitat diversity in the tropics, I apply a phylogenetic approach. I combine subgenomic (exon capture) data with environmental analyses to determine when and how lineages diverged. 

 

I'm still working with Brazilian lizards, but now from Australia! I'm collaborating with the Moritz Lab at ANU to develop genetic resources for the Gymnophthalminae subfamily of lizards (family Gymnophthalmidae). Pictured here: a rock wallaby in Queensland

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