Research

My research encompasses biodiversity, evolutionary ecology, systematics and natural history.

My research focuses on determining how species evolve and how they came to co-exist in environments. I am also interested in understanding and proposing potential evolutionary relationships.

Evolutionary Ecology

Diptera pollinator-plant associations

Flies tend to be an overlooked group of insects when it comes to pollination. They are practically the group of pollinators in arctic regions but little is known about their efficacy in temperate regions. My research looks into the relationships between flies and the plants they pollinate.

Plant-leaf miner-parasitoid associations

Leaf miner

Leaf miner are the overlooked plant eaters of the insect world. But they have fascinating evolutionary and ecological characters and adaptations. They require a host plant to survive; they feed on the parenchyma cells of a plant leaf where they go undergo larval development.

During my postdoctoral studies in Dr. Stephen B. Heard’s lab, I tested whether the main drivers of leaf miners communities are evolutionary or ecological. I dove into answering whether leaf miners are associated host plants and whether they require a particular habitats.

Odonate-parasite associations

Damselflies are briefcases of parasites. They have a multitude of external and internal parasites. They do not get infected with all of them at once. Studies have especially focused on water mites and are slowly starting to look at gregarines.

My PhD work, at Carleton University under the supervision of Dr. Mark Forbes focused on understanding and explaining the variation of parasitism in closely related host species using the damselfly-water mite and damselfly-gregarine system as my models.

Systematics and Taxonomy

Chloropidae

It is no secret I have a soft spot for Diptera (flies). The family that I am most involved in working on are the Chloropidae (grass flies, frit flies). They are small, ranging from 1-5mm in size, colourful (lots of yellow-black patterns) and wonderfully diverse in the World (currently about ~3000 described species but probably many many more).

I started working on the Chloropidae during my undergraduate degree but continue to do generic revisions, describe species and work on determining evolutionary relationships (phylogenies) within the family.

Other families of interest

Other families I work on are the Milichiidae (freeloading flies) and the Piophilidae (the so-called cheese flies). Both of these families have species with very interesting ecology, more interesting then their common names suggest.

 

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