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The latitudinal gradient in species diversity is one of the most obvious ecological patterns on the planet, yet the mechanisms underlying this pattern remain unresolved and controversial. The fundamental problem relates to linking latitudinal variation in the environment to the processes that lead to the evolution of reproductive isolation and species formation.
Diet evolution is a major driver of differences in morphology, function and species richness across mammal lineages. My lab’s research focuses on understanding how ecological diversification in mammals is related to the evolution of phenotypic traits, in particular those used to locate, capture and consume prey. With over 1,300 species worldwide, bats are an ideal model system for this research; they are one of the most species-rich and ecologically diverse mammal orders.
Many organisms display various seasonal developmental and behavioral changes throughout the year. To know the precise time of the season, as well as upcoming seasonal changes, they measure changes in day length as a highly predictable environmental variant. Day length (=photoperiod) information is processed through the molecular network controlled by an internal timing mechanism, the circadian clock. In my lab, we are interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which organisms use the circadian clock system to measure seasonal changes.