Research in our lab encompasses processes of evolution ranging from the diversification of major insect lineages to the formation of species boundaries. Our work on patterns of arthropod biodiversity also provides basic training for taxonomists at a time when their numbers are declining but their expertise is more important than ever before. In addition to extensive use of DNA sequences, we use morphological data and phylogenetic analysis, complemented by internet-accessible keys and databases. We are building a foundation for understanding phenomena like plant-insect coevolution, the historical biogeography of endangered communities, and the interaction of genomic architecture with speciation. We also contribute to faunal inventories that are designed to support conservation, agriculture and forestry by facilitating more responsible use of natural resources.
We have ongoing projects on tortricid (Choristoneura) and pyralid (Dioryctria) moths that are major pests of forest trees across North America. Other projects in the lab include studies of moth taxonomy, butterfly phylogenetics, gene flow in ecologically sensitive grassland insects, hybrid zone structure in water striders and Lepidoptera, and phylogeography of economically important beetles.