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 ongoing projects on tortricid (Choristoneura) and pyralid (Dioryctria)
moths that are major pests of forest trees across North America. Other
projects in the lab include studies of moth taxonomy, phylogeny of
swallowtail butterflies, gene flow in ecologically sensitive grassland
insects, hybrid zone structure in water striders, and phylogeography of
economically important beetles.
More information is available in the Sperling Lab Page.