I am interested in the amazing biological diversity we have on this planet, particularly in fishes. Why are there so many species? How are these species related? How did their traits — such as size, shape, and ecology — evolve? To answer these questions, I utilize specimen collection, curation, morphological observation, and integrate these with advances in using high-throughput sequencing, algorithms in phylogenetic analysis, use of digitized collections and biological databases, and use of high-throughput computing. My research spans everywhere from taxonomic description and observation of morphology, to large-scale phylogenetic analysis, to assembly of data from high throughput sequencing.
Preserved specimens of Paedocypris
For my PhD dissertation, I study the evolution of miniature minnows from Southeast Asia. These minnows, such as Paedocypris and Danionella, are some of the smallest fishes in the world. Yet, they are closely related to the model organism zebrafish. The zebrafish's developmental biology has been heavily studied, and its genome has been sequenced. This provides an excellent resource to compare with other minnows, making minnows a potential model system to study vertebrate evolution. My dissertation work involves comparative phylogenetics, phylogenomics, and transcriptomics, to study the evolutionary history of these fishes and the evolution of their genes.
|I am also interested in the macroevolutionary processes and how they shape diversity in species and morphology, such as shape or body size. This includes using geometric morphometric methods to quantify shape combined with phylogenetic comparative methods to study diversification across groups of fishes such as cyprinids.|
Points indicate digitized landmarks for quantifying shape
via Armbruster, 2012
Cordylancistrus santarosensis holotype
described by Tan & Armbruster 2012
I am also interested in the diversity of Loricariidae (suckermouth armored catfishes). As an aquarist, I grew to love these fish through my experience keeping and breeding them at home. Currently, my work on loricariids is focused on their taxonomy, or the naming and classification of species. There are over 800 species of loricariid catfishes, making it one of the most diverse fish groups. There remain many species unknown to science, and I am describing some of these species in my studies.