Laboratoř evoluční ekologie
Laboratory of Evolutionary Ecology
Initial website description by Dr Simon Segar for the Department of Ecology (ENTu)
Our laboratory has a broad conceptual focus on trying to understand how extant diversity has been driven through ecological interactions over evolutionary time. We mostly work on model systems comprising tropical plants and their associated insects (herbivores, pollinators and parasitoids), as the majority of described of terrestrial species fall into this group. Our work often includes the use of molecular tools to provide an evolutionary baseline onto which we add layers of complexity in the form of detailed ecological measurements (e.g. plant chemistry data relevant to herbivores or pollinators). We rely on the field collection of samples and work collaboratively with others to achieve our goals, performing a large component of the molecular work in the Department of Ecology. Our projects are often derived from field observations, and we are currently working on four main themes: 1) the population genetic structure of mutualists and endosymbionts along a complete altitudinal rainforest transect, 2) the predictive modelling of host use using bipartite phylogenies and plant chemistry data, 3) elucidating the role of evolutionary relationships and defensive traits in structuring the insect herbivore communities associated with the tropical plant genus Ficus, both in lowland rainforest and along an elevational gradient and 4) the phylogeny and host use of pollinating fig wasps.