The warmest of welcomes to the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology’s newest Michigan Fellow and Assistant Professor Roberto Márquez.

Márquez, who began in this role Aug. 30, 2021, is an evolutionary biologist and herpetologist. His research focuses on understanding the evolutionary processes that give rise to biodiversity, mainly studying poison dart frogs. 

“My research aims to understand the evolutionary, biogeographic, and developmental processes that give rise to biological diversity, both in terms of lineages (i.e., taxonomic diversity) and phenotypes,” according to his webpage. “The bulk of my work consists of integrating a variety of approaches, including systematics, population genetics, genome editing, and developmental biology, to understand the evolution of aposematic coloration (to warn or repel predators), toxicity and other associated traits in poison frogs of the family Dendrobatidae. Currently, my research program is focused on understanding two main aspects of phenotypic evolution in poison frogs: i) What are the genetic and developmental underpinnings of correlated evolution of aposematic traits? ii) How have poison frogs evolved to avoid the harmful effects associated with consuming and accumulating toxic alkaloids?

“In addition, I am working to develop tools and resources that allow for more functional and mechanistic approaches to the study of poison frogs, such as reference genome assemblies and genome editing techniques.

“Finally, considering the systematics and taxonomy of poison frogs remain unresolved for several groups and regions, I also maintain a research line aimed at describing and classifying the diversity of dendrobatid poison frogs, especially in northwestern South America.”

Márquez earned his doctorate degree in Ecology & Evolution from the University of Chicago in 2020. His thesis was “The evolutionary, biogeographic, and genetic origin of color pattern diversity in Phyllobates poison-dart frogs.”

Read more on Márquez’s website

Compiled by Gail Kuhnlein