Guralnick Lab - Research

More details on our research program

Approaches Used in Lab:
 
-  Species 
   occurrence
   datasets (fossil  
   and
   modern)
 
-  Molecular
   phylogenetics
 
-  Morphometric
   analysis 
   (landmark
   and outline)
 
-  Comparative
   evolutionary
   morphology

-  Ecological niche
   modeling

-  Large dataset
   meta-analysis
 
-  Informatics   
   approaches to
   access global  
   species and
   environmental 
   data


 

 
 
Species Response to Environmental Changes
The research focus of the lab is global change biology.  That is, our lab documents how organisms respond to environmental changes over multiple time scales, from the recent past and present to changes over tens of thousands and millions of years.   Our work has applied utility in the area of conservation biology.  

We use a combination of field ecology, spatial ecology and genetic approaches to examine how species respond to such changes.  Recent work has included documenting past and present distributions, phenologies and phenotypes of diverse organisms such as land snails, viruses, grasshoppers,and alpine mammals.  We can use these patterns of change to detect, for example, signatures of selection for drug resistance on the genomes of influenza, or to document persistence and dispersal pathways for pikas  in the southern and central Rockies.  

Deepr Time Perspectives

We use fossil and modern data in concert to examine how species respond to environmental change.  Some work has explicitly examined morphological changes in gastropod shell shape as temperature and productivity in the marine realm changed during the Pleistocene.  Other
work has examined terrestrial mammal distribution changes during warming from the end Pleistocene to present.  We have also examined how changes in shapes and size of plant leaves provide a means to infer past climate.
 
The Biggest Picture
We are currently working in collaboration with Walter Jetz at Yale, and others, to develop the conceptual and cyberinfrastructure framework for a Map of Life.  The ambition of Map of Life is simple and profound:  To provide high resolution, annotated and well documented species distributions for all taxa.  We believe this can be accomplished by integrating sources of information about species,  from now easily available species occurrence data, to expert opinion range maps and habitat preferences.  With a Map of Life in place, it will also be possible to document distributions changes over time in response to environmental perturbations.  

Summary
We are biodiversity scientists and our research focuses on spatiotemporal changes in genetic and species diversity.   We take an integrative approach to global change biology and the skills in lab range from occupancy modeling to spatial ecological modeling, to landscape genetics, to molecular phylogenetics. The diversity in lab is also its strength -- we continue to discover that the interesting questions are the integrative ones that require multiple lines of evidence.