UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
Why are there so many kinds of animals? Does evolutionary diversification tend to follow a similar trajectory in different groups of animals? Our work addresses both of these questions using an integrated analysis of DNA sequence data, laboratory experiments, and field studies of a species rich group of lizards. A primary goal of our work is to use DNA sequence data to reconstruct a tree reflecting relationships among species. We will then use this tree to retrace the history of ecological and morphological diversification, focusing in particular on whether aspects of this history are repeated by other groups of animals.
Our work will employ five persons full-time, including four graduate students and one post-doctoral scholar. Mentorship and training in advanced laboratory and field techniques will be provided to all of these participants. Our group's work will result in one of the largest and most diverse compilations of DNA sequence data ever assembled for a group of related species. The phylogenetic and statistical methods developed to analyze this dataset and the lessons learned from these analyses will be directly applicable to similar studies of other organisms, including those with medical, agricultural, or conservation significance.