Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Effects of Host Specialization on Local Adaptation and Speciation in a Hyperdiverse Genus of Phytophagous Tropical Rain Forest Beetles (Coleoptera: Hispinae)

EPA Grant Number: FP916386
Title: Effects of Host Specialization on Local Adaptation and Speciation in a Hyperdiverse Genus of Phytophagous Tropical Rain Forest Beetles (Coleoptera: Hispinae)
Investigators: McKenna, Duane D.
Institution: Harvard University
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004
Project Amount: $86,964
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences , Fellowship - Entomology

Objective:

The objective of this research project is to combine molecular phylogenetic methods with field ecological studies to address predictions of the specialization-speciation hypothesis fundamental to understanding how host specialization influences local adaptation and speciation in herbivorous tropical insects. Specifically, the research addresses the assumption that relative diet specialist species exhibit more population structure than relative diet generalists by examining pairwise genetic distances (estimated from DNA sequence data) between population pairs of relative diet specialist and diet generalist Cephaloleia beetle species collected along an approximately 1,000 km transect through lower Central America. I am addressing a second assumption, namely, that diet specialist lineages should be more prone to speciation than diet generalist lineages, by applying methods for analyzing rates and patterns of diversification to a detailed species-level molecular phylogeny of the genus Cephaloleia.

Approach:

Taken as a whole, these data should provide a convenient framework for examining the consequences of diet specialization for local adaptation and speciation in the genus Cephaloleia. Understanding how host specialization influences local adaptation and speciation is an important step towards linking pattern and process in the evolution of species diversity and may permit more efficient and accurate forecasting and amelioration of the effects of anthropogenic landscape change on insect diversity.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, relative diet specialist, relative diet generalist, Cephaloleia, specialization, speciation, anthropogenic landscape change, molecular phylogenetic methods, local adaptation, Central America, herbivorous tropical insects, tropical rain forest beetles,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Entomology, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Biology, Ecological Indicators, plant-animal interactions, predictive species model, bioassessment, tropical rain forest beetles, biological transformation, biological control agents, speciation, species formation, molecular phylogenic research, evolutionary biology