Phylogeny, population genetics and biogeography of ants on islands.

By using a range of molecular techniques, we aim to reconstruct the evolutionary history of ants to better understand the origin and maintenance of insect diversity across various tropical and subtropical regions. For example, we use species-level phylogenies of ants to study patterns of radiation and dispersal across areas of Indo-Australia, South Pacific and Mexico. We also use phylogenies to estimate the times of origin, diversification rates and to reconstruct the evolution of ecological traits across ant lineages. These analyses allow us to evaluate the past and current ecological changes of the species, habitats or whole ecosystems.

At the population level, we study how habitat preferences, life history and geography affect genetic structure and gene flow. We also use population genetic markers to reconstruct movement of ant populations among islands or across different ecological gradients.