A common thread to my research is to increase understanding of the evolutionary processes that promote divergence in wild vertebrate systems. I use a variety of methodologies to answer questions about processes of genetic, morphological and ecological/behavioural differentiation.
Three current research areas are:
1) Processes that generate biodiversity in archipelago systems
I am interested in the processes that both promote and inhibit the generation of biodiversity and I examine these processes using avian systems in South Pacific region, primarily New Caledonia and Vanuatu. I integrate information on population genetic, phylogenetic variation, morphological and ecological variation and host-pathogen interactions (avian malaria), to understand the microevolutionary processes that underlie population divergence and how this may lead to incipient speciation.
2) Dynamics of natural selection in wild populations
I study the temporal dynamics of natural selection in an individually colour-ringed population of silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis chlorocephalus) Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia to understand the nature of phenotypic evolution. This population has been studied since the 1960’s, and application of modelling techniques applied to the long-term dataset along with on-going collection of individual-based data allows insight into potential responses to changing environmental conditions.
3) Genomics of divergence in island colonizing birds
Island colonizing birds often appear to undergo rapid divergence. Members of the Zosteropidae family provide an ideal system to examine genomic patterns of divergence associated with island colonisation across a spectrum of known population ages. I am applying genomic approaches to understand this rapid divergence, with a current focus on understanding genetic underpinnings of changes in dispersal tendencies.