There are several research themes in our lab, which are all related. Our general focus is understanding the evolutionary implications of species living in changing environments. We focus on multivariate phenotypes, which often require using more variables to describe phenotypes than research subjects available (i.e., high-dimensional data). Thus, much of our research is conceptual, targeting development of analytical methods to analyze phenotypic change described by high-dimensional data. However, there has to be a motivation to take on the conceptual challenges. Our empirical systems tend to be vertebrates, especially fishes. Currently, a strong emphasis is the sinkhole fish communities in and around the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge (BLNWR) in New Mexico. These habitats host allopatric and sympatric populations of fishes, and vary in salinity and other habitat characteristics. We are addressing the evolution of morphology and ecological roles of different fish species among different community types. Isolation in these sinkholes is a rather new occurrence, due to water diversion practices. Comparison of evolutionary trajectories among community types and between isolated populations and other meta-populations should provide great insight for conservation of rare species impacted by habitat alterations, based on evolutionary reasoning.
© Howard Brandenburg