Insect Evolutionary Biodiversity

L_williamsiL_will-femaleThe lab’s research focuses on the taxonomic and ecological diversity of plant-feeding insects, especially sap-sucking bugs (aphids, scale insects, whiteflies and jumping plant lice). The core of the program is insect systematics: delimiting and describing species, reconstructing the history of evolutionary divergences among species, and developing systems to manage species data. But we use systematics to set up other kinds of research. One major aim, in particular, is to understand the ecological and evolutionary factors that drive speciation and extinction, and explain the unevenness of species diversity across evolutionary lineages and landscapes. A second major aim is to understand the factors that drive ecological divergence among plant-feeding insects. In this area, we are especially interested in the evolution of host breadth.

The images on this page are the adult male (left) and female (right) of the Australian felt scale insect species Lobimargo williamsi. This kind of extreme sexual dimorphism characterizes many sap-sucking bug species.