Entomology & Photography

Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of a highly diverse genus of andean butterflies.

Entomology & Photography

This research project will be the first to produce a phylogenetic hypothesis for one of the largest Andean butterfly radiations, the genus Catasticta Butler, 1870, with almost 100 species, and will employ that phylogeny to investigate critical questions about how evolution has proceeded in this important but poorly studied group of animals. My current dissertation research involves: (1) generating the first species-level molecular phylogeny for this genus, and using it to test the monophyly of the genus, the validity of subgenera and previously defined species groups, and, in some cases, resolve taxonomic problems at the species-level; (2) using this phylogeny to examine the geographic location and timing of major diversification events in the genus, which has its greatest species richness in the Andes but is also distributed in Central America and southeastern Brazil; (3) evaluating the dominant geographic mode of speciation in Catasticta; (4) examining what are the Important factors limiting Catasticta species distribution; and (5) identifying historical and contemporary determinants of species richness in the genus.

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