Empirical Research

Evolutionary ecology of desert fish communities.

We currently use desert fishes as model systems for the study of evolutionary repeatability in replicated communities. Our main focus is the desert fish communities of sinkholes and marshes associated with the Pecos River. Extensive alterations of the Pecos River have disrupted historic metapopulations of various species, creating varied but replicated isolated communities. This system provides the opportunity to examine evolution of fish communities (i.e., the paralleled evolution of form and function of different species within communities) for different community types. Understanding the evolution of different species in varied isolated communities will be additionally important for adapting conservation strategies for rare desert fish species. This research should also spur other studies, as an exemplar, for studying the evolution of communities (co-diversification of species) in response to habitat or climate change. Current research is supported by the NSF.