Research in my lab encompasses processes of evolution ranging from
the diversification of major insect lineages to the formation of species
boundaries. Our work on patterns of arthropod biodiversity also
provides basic training for taxonomists at a time when their numbers are
declining but their expertise is more important than ever before. In
addition to extensive use of DNA sequences, we use morphological data
and phylogenetic analysis, complemented by internet-accessible keys and
databases. We are building a foundation for understanding phenomena like
plant-insect coevolution, the historical biogeography of endangered
communities, and the interaction of genomic architecture with
speciation. We also contribute to faunal inventories that are designed
to support conservation, agriculture and forestry by facilitating more
responsible use of natural resources.
We have several ongoing projects on tortricid (Choristoneura) moths and mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosa) that are major pests of forest trees across North America, as well as the systematics of swallowtails and other butterflies. Projects in the lab employ high throughput sequencing and morphometrics to provide integrative taxonomy, time-callibrated phylogenies, and estimates of the genomic architecture of adaptation.
More information is available in the Sperling Lab Page.