Testing processes of evolution relies on the identification of patterns of biodiversity. Many organisms are yet unknown to science, and considerable effort is still required to define global biodiversity. Recent identification of cryptic lineages living in areas considered well-studied highlight the need for more work (Oliver & Shapiro 2007). I am currently working with David Maddison at Oregon State to develop rapid methods of species discovery, to take advantage of new techologies for generating massive amounts of genomic data. Given the high contemporary extinction rate, it is imperative that new species can be identified, and conservation action taken if necessary, before they are lost to science entirely.

Relevant publication:

  • Oliver, J.C. and A.M. Shapiro. 2007. Genetic isolation and cryptic variation within the Lycaena xanthoides species group (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Molecular Ecology 16:4308–4320. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03494.x