I study evolution from a molecular perspective, with an aim to further our understanding of the genetic and ecological mechanisms that underlie rapid adaptation and speciation. Much of my work falls into two streams: visual ecology or eco-evolutionary genomics.
Vision is a particularly interesting trait to study because it has a well characterized genetic basis, and is likely under strong natural and sexual selection in many systems. I am interested in understanding how visual systems evolve in novel spectral environments. My work has shown that substantial evolution of the visual system can occur on very short time scales and that adaptation of the visual system involves changes in opsin gene sequence, repertoire and expression.
Biotic agents of natural selection (e.g. predators, competitors, symbiants) are thought to play an important role in diversification. However, we have little idea about the imposed selective landscapes or evolutionary responses to these agents. I use field studies and manipulative experiments to disentangle the contributions of such biotic agents to observed patterns of divergence. My experimental work has revealed the importance of differential predation in driving phenotypic and genomic diversification. My fieldwork has indicated that the gut-microbiome may be involved in an eco-evolutionary response to resource competition.
More recently I have turned to large-scale population genomic analyses to further elucidate the genetic and ecological factors that influence evolutionary trajectories. My postdoctoral work tests whether pleiotropy is a source of evolutionary constraint that underlies the predictability of evolutionary responses.
Samuk KM, Owens GL, Delmore KE, Miller SE, Rennison DJ, Schluter D. Gene flow and selection interact to promote adaptive divergence in regions of low recombination. Molecular Ecology, In Press.