Photography César Aguilar
Department of Biology, Brigham Young University Provo, UT 84602 (caguilarp@gmail.com)
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Name One of my general interests is species delimitation. Species boundaries in the tropidurine lizard genus Liolaemus in the northern part of its distribution have been based on morphological characteristics alone; these have not been useful in reconstructing relationships, and based on the topography of the Peruvian Andes and the cryptic species being found in Patagonia, I suspect that the diversity of these and other northern Andean lizards has been underestimated. In order to address these and related issues, I will use multi-locus molecular data sets, and implement coalescent, phylogeographic, and phylogenetic methods to develop well-supported hypotheses of species boundaries and relationships. Another aspect of my general interest is to use phylogenetic systematics as a framework to study adaptation and character evolution. As another part of my PhD. project, I will focus on the histology and evolution of the placenta in viviparous lizard species along altitudinal and/or latitudinal gradients. These studies will be carried out in several clades of Liolaemus species, but also in parallel in snakes of the Tachymenis peruviana complex. This shares problems of species boundaries and phylogenetic relationships, and because T. peruviana populations are sympatric with some viviparous Liolaemus species, I will use comparative methods to study the independent evolution of the placenta as an adaptation to cold montane environments.
Photography Derek Tucker
(PhD Candidate) Department of Biology, BYU, Provo, UT 84602 (email: derekbrazil2002@yahoo.com)
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Name Research Interests: My interests are broad but center around reptile ecology and evolution. My most recent research (MS project) employed molecular markers (microsatellites) to examine the effect of fire suppression and major roadways on the population structure and gene flow on the lizard Sceloporus woodi, in Florida’s Ocala National Forest. Both of these kinds of disturbances lead to fragmented habitats and create genetically differentiated populations on an ecological time scale. I am interested in developing a dissertation project that includes expanded use of molecular markers, along with morphological and other data sets, to address phylogenetic and phylogeographic questions on squamates in South America, particularly in the seasonally dry vegetation zones in South America.
Photography Perry L. Wood
(PhD Candidate) Department of Biology, BYU, Provo, UT 84602 (email: perryleewoodjr@gmail.com)
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Name Research Interests: I am interested in the elucidation of cryptic species of amphibian and reptiles, patterns and processes of evolution, computational systematics, historical biogeography and phylogeography of the Sunda region, and gene flow across geographical barriers in Southeast Asia. Specifically, I am interested in comparative phylogenetics across the Isthmus of Kra and surrounding areas. I would like to use Bayesian coalescence methods to delineate species boundaries and to look at potential gene flow and secondary contacts across these geographical barriers using a multi-taxon data set and see how groups with different life histories have been influenced by geographic barriers. I am also very interested in constructing a well-supported phylogeny of all Southeast Asian Agamid lizards using a multi-locus data set, which follows from my MS research using a multi-locus data set to construct a species level phylogeny of the genus Acanthosaura. From this molecular phylogeny, I was able to elucidate some of the species complexes within the genus.
Photography Luke Welton
Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602 (lwelton@byu.net)
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Name Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the evolution and phylogenetic relationships of squamate reptiles and the biogeographical factors driving speciation in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines. Estimation of species boundaries and relationships of closely related taxa are central to my research, as are taxonomic revisions of such groups. I am most interested in gaining a better understanding of the diversity, systematics, and evolutionary history of groups with a turbulent taxonomic past, and how the underlying geographic template has shaped the diversity we see today. Secondarily, I have interests in conservation and the role that phylogenetics can play in assessing groups that are most severely threatened by exploitation, and garnering vital information which serves to curb the illegal trade in reptiles and amphibians.