My Major Ongoing Projects and Activities

The Macroevolutionary Ecology of Damselflies

Since my dissertation work at the Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, I have been exploring the ecological and evolutionary processes that have shaped the communities of organisms inhabiting freshwater ponds and lakes. I originally chose to work on this system because characteristic assemblages of organisms exist in different pond and lake types, and patterns of species associations are repeatable across space and through time. I have focused much of my work on the Coenagrionidae damselflies because this diverse group of closely related species displays a fascinating distribution pattern among these ponds and lakes. One set of species in the genus Enallagma is found as larvae only in ponds and lakes that also support fish as the top predator, while the remaining Enallagma species are found as larvae only in permanent ponds and lakes that do not support fish populations but do support large dragonflies as the top predators. In contrast to Enallagma, larvae of Ischnura species thrive in both lake types. Finally, species in the genus Lestes have specislists like Enallagma, but Lestes species can be found all the way from small vernal ponds that dry each year up to large lakes supporting fish. My research explores the mechanisms generating such distributional patterns from three different perspectives: (1) the food web structure that maintains these patterns today, (2) the microevolutionary processes that have shaped the abilities of species to engage in interactions with other members of the food webs and with their abiotic environment, (3) the macroevolutionary processes that generated these assemblages of species, and (4) the mechanisms by which males and females discriminate conspecifics from heterospecifics for mating.

Food Web Structure

Adaptive Evolution

Diversification & Macroevolution

Evolution of Mate Recognition

Other Research Projects

In addition to my major research focus on the macroevolutionary ecology of damselflies, I have a number of ongoing theoretical and empirical projects addressing general issues in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Patterns of Diversification in Animals & Plants

Models of Metacommunities

Demography In Variable Environments

Evolution of Dispersal

Other Issues

A personal statement about Intelligent Design

Other Activities

1999 Conference on Darwinian Evolution Across the Disciplines


Editor-In-Chief beginning Jan. 2009, The American Naturalist