Jeff Shi, a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, won the Karl F. Koopman Prize from the North American Society for Bat Research.

Shi presented "Speciation and skull morphological evolution are decoupled across extant bats," at the NASBR’s 44th annual symposium in Albany, NY, October 22 – 25.  The Koopman Award is presented for best student platform paper in systematics or zoogeography. Shi received books on bat ecology and evolution, and a cash award from the Koopman fund. Shi’s advisors are Professors Catherine Badgley and Daniel Rabosky.

“In many large groups of organisms, we see that speciation is correlated with morphological evolution,” Shi explained. “I tested this prediction with modern bats, a very diverse group with a tight connection between skull shape and ecology. With my advisor, Dan Rabosky, and two collaborators, Betsy Dumont at University of Massachusetts Amherst and my undergraduate research assistant in EEB, Nathan Katlein, I have been collecting data on different skull shapes across modern bats in our collection and at the American Museum of Natural History. Using software packages developed by our lab, we discovered that rates of speciation and skull morphological evolution are entirely decoupled from one another. In other words, the groups that are particularly adept at speciating are not the same ones that are rapidly changing skull shape. This is just the first part of what I hope to be a long series of research projects that will help us understand what drives diversity dynamics in this charismatic group of animals.”

“That's practically a sweep for vertebrates at this point, with fishes, ‘herps,’ and bats this year,” said Rabosky. He was referring to EEB graduate students Andrea Thomaz and Pascal Title winning best student presentations for fishes and herps at the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists conference, which, in addition to Shi’s news, means that graduate students working at the U-M Museum of Zoology have swept many of the available student awards at the relevant conferences.