Kudos to EEB graduate students Andréa Thomaz and Pascal Title on their Stoye Awards of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
Thomaz won the best student oral presentation in general ichthyology at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists for “Species delimitation integrating morphological and genetic data within a Bayesian framework using iBPP: application in the southeastern Brazilian species complex Hollandichthys (Teleostei: Characiformes).”
Her study organism, the genus of tetras Hollandichthys, is known to be hiding great diversity. However, currently, only two valid species are recognized, according to Thomaz. “Finding species boundaries in this genus is difficult since their morphology is diverging slowly and continuously, which is problematic for finding morphological traits to delimit these potentially new species.”
For now, to have a better picture of how the differentiation occurred in this group, she applied a methodology that is under development (iBPP) to use information from morphology and genetics under a common model-based framework. “With this model, we were able to capture information that relates biological process during the differentiation of this group, which was very helpful for understanding that divergence is being accumulated continuously and why morphology and genetic data present contrasting patterns,” she explained. Thomaz's advisor is Professor L. Lacey Knowles.
Title won the best student oral presentation in general herpetology. He presented “Niche evolution dynamics and their role in Australian squamate diversification.”
“Australia has almost 1,000 species of snakes and lizards and the major groups that make up this diversity are not evenly distributed across the continent,” he said. “I was interested in how Australia's climate has influenced the diversification of snakes and lizards over evolutionary time. I found that across major groups of species, rates of speciation are correlated with the species' overall abilities to move into novel climate space. Certain groups that can easily do so have invaded the arid zones of Australia and diversified, whereas other groups that are constrained to particular climates have not diversified much at all.” Title's advisor is Professor Dan Rabosky.
The meeting was held in in Chattanooga, Tennessee July 30 - Aug 3, 2014.