Research Interests

Improve our understanding of how the distribution of diversity is achieved by studying processes that occur at different time scales (i.e., origin + extinction + colonization + maintenance). Most of the work is based on phylogenetics, population genetics, and spatial analyses, on topics such as:

1. Niche and geographic range modeling: What are the factors that determine geographic ranges? How are these factors changing through time? Can we use this information to predict the occurrence of biological processes and patterns?

                                                 Geographic predictions of ecological niche models based on different sets of environmental predictors (elevation, NDVI, climate and combinations thereof) for a couple of species in the genus Grallaria in Ecuador. Parra et al. 2004.

2. Spatial distribution of genetic and phenotypic diversity at various scales (populations, species, communities): How important are current environments in explaining phenotypic variation? How important are historical events? more...

Geographic predictions of ecological niche model through time for Hyperolius ocellatus in western Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, and Bioko). The thin lines represent the current country boundaries and the current coastal line. The gridded surfaces represent the environmental suitability for these frogs. Not too long ago (11000  -  50000 years ago) the coastal line included the island  of Bioko and  the climate above the land bridge was suitable for dispersal, thus highlighting the potential complex history of connectivity between the island and mainland populations. Bell & Parra et al. 2017.

3. Structural color evolution in hummingbirds: What are the roles of structural colors in this family? How do these structures function? In great need to collaborate with a physicist interested on this topic - Please let me know if you are out there! more...

Phylogenetic hypothesis for the lineages present in the hummingbird genus Coeligena. The two major clades correspond to three lineages that are sexually monochromatic and eight lineages that are sexually dichromatic. Figures represent the mean and standard deviation of colors (hue) for five different plumage patches (crown, gorget, belly, upper back and rump) for each species. Circle colors are approximations of the color displayed by the patch. Parra 2010.

4. Community assembly: What are the factors (historic and contemporary) that determine which species coexist? How are these species related? How are their phenotypes related? more...

Photographs of beaks and extended wings for different birds. These are used to quantitatively describe shape and form. Lopez et al. 2016.