•   Diversification and Macroevolution
•   Evolutionary Morphology
•   Theoretical Phylogenetics
•   Reef Fish Molecular Systematics

The central goal of my research program is to understand the factors that govern the dynamics of evolutionary diversification. Why are some groups morphologically diverse? Does morphological diversity always signal mechanical, functional, or ecological diversity? Are there general laws or themes that can be used to explain the uneven distribution of diversity in physiological traits across lineages? To address these questions, I work largely on marine fishes. My research approach is interdisciplinary and quantitative and crosses traditional boundaries among evolutionary morphology, molecular phylogenetics, and theoretical evolution. I identify and quantify organismal diversity by measuring genome size, morphology, and behavior; construct evolutionary trees and test evolutionary hypotheses using phylogenetic statistical methods; and use models of trait evolution to explore form-function dynamics.


Coral reefs are home to the most diverse assemblage vertebrates on our planet yet we know little about how this biodiversity has evolved. We are using molecular phylogenetics, the fossil record, morphological measures, and comparative methods to study the tempo of diversification in tetraodontiform fish, a group which includes pufferfishes, filefishes, and triggerfishes, to understand whether transitions to coral reefs underlie patterns of morphological richness and species diversity. Funded by NSF DEB 0842397.