The Very Extended Phenotype: connecting genetics and evolution to ecological function

We propose to develop a cross-scale research program that focuses on the relationships between phylogenetic diversity, genetic diversity and functional diversity of a biologically and economically important taxonomic group; bats.

Chance or necessity? Adaptive vs. non adaptive evolution in plant-frugivore interactions

Data available to new students. The project focuses on a relatively unexplored yet crucial aspect of plant-animal mutualisms; volatile chemical communication between plants and vertebrate frugivores.

Discovering genomic and developmental mechanisms that underlie sensory innovations critical to adaptive diversification

Data available to new students. This project focuses on a diverse group of tropical bats in which various species evolved acute, specialized hearing, supersensitive eyes, the ability to smell subtle plant chemicals, or highly developed vomeronasal systems (thought to contribute to mating and social hierarchy).

Uncovering skin immune proteins as predictors of resistance against WNS

The goal of this project was to discover the mechanisms underlying the survival of remnant populations in the WNS-affected area.

Diversification in Noctilionoid Bats

Noctilionoid bats comprise more than 200 species that span the entire ecological diversity of land mammals. They range from tiny insectivores and nectarivores to large carnivores, and even vampire bats. This is an unparalleled system for understanding how, when, and where bats evolved [new diets](https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2011.2005), changed roosting habits and developed different kinds of echolocation. Together with the [N. B. Simmons](https://www.amnh.org/research/vertebrate-zoology/mammalogy/research-activities/nancy-b.-simmons-research-group) Lab, we are generating species-level phylogenies using molecular and morphological data, and including fossils of 20 extinct species. These phylogenies provide frameworks for investigating patterns and processes of ecological adaptation, speciation, and extinction across a hyperdiverse group of mammals.

Historical Biogeography of the Antilles

The project will generate hypotheses about the evolutionary relationships of 5 different groups of bats, each containing at least one exclusively Antillean species. These evolutionary relationships will then be used to establish the timing and pattern of separation among bat species in the Antilles and their South and Central American relatives, and will also be compared with similar hypotheses about other terrestrial organisms. Drs. Nancy Simmons, Rob DeSalle, and Liliana Davalos will use standard methods for obtaining and analyzing morphological and molecular data from the study groups. Patterns of evolutionary relationships resulting from these data will be compared applying at least 5 different approaches.