Scroll down for a Storified string of tweets that we sent out from CSEE2017 that described how important vouchering, analysis and integration of bycatch and pre-publication accessibility are to our work.
Much of the research of my lab takes place in the following three areas:
Biodiversity and Phylogenetic Community Structure The focus of this research program is to better understand the contemporary distribution of hyperdiverse, and often cryptic, species of insects across major ecological gradients in tropical and temperate environments. My program is built upon projects designed to explore the causes and consequences of biodiversity across elevational, latitudinal and disturbance gradients and builds on long-term collections using phylogenetic, functional and physiological measures.
Recent contributions from this program
Dolson, S.J., Loewen, E., Jones, K., Jacobs, S.R., Solis, A., Hallwachs, W., Brunke, A.J., Janzen, D.H. and Smith, M.A. (2021), Diversity and phylogenetic community structure across elevation during climate change in a family of hyperdiverse neotropical beetles (Staphylinidae). Ecography. 44: 740-752.https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05427
Warne, CPK, Hallwachs, W, Janzen, DH, Smith, MA. (2020) Functional and genetic diversity changes through time in a cloud forest ant assemblage. Biotropica; 52: 1084– 1091. https://doi.org/10.1111/btp.12882
Dolson, SJ, McPhee, M, Vizquez, C, Hallwachs W, DH Janzen and M. Alex Smith (2020) Diversity, abundance, and phylogenetic structure of spiders (Araneae) across a Costa Rican elevation gradient. Biotropica. 52: 1092– 1102. https://doi.org/10.1111/btp.12874
Crozier, R. H., Agapow, P‐M., and M. Alex Smith. (2010) Conservation genetics: from species to habitats. in BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH– SAFEGUARDING THE FUTURE: Outcomes and recommendations of the CBD - COP 9 Associated Meeting Bonn, May 2008, Editor: Jessica M. Reeves. pp 73-79.
Ecology of parasitoids, hyperparasitoids, symbionts and hosts Work in this program has already allowed a more accurate direct understanding of patterns of host-specialization amongst several families of parasitoid insects. We are now in a position to examine co-evolutionary relationships amongst the hosts, the parasitoids, their own parasites (hyperparasitoids - Taeniogonalos sp.) and bacterial symbionts (Wolbachia). We have discovered multiple instances where parasitoids expected to be host generalists were, in fact, morphologically cryptic specialists. The inverse of this discovery is a unique capability to more precisely examine the causes and consequences of those remaining truly generalist parasitoids - prior work on these taxa and in this tropical area regarding host-generalist parasitoids dealt with a bad data due to the inclusion of morphologically cryptic specialists! Highly collaborative work with Dan Janzen, Winnie Hallwachs (collections and ecology and general ecological evolutionary know how), Jose Triana Fernandez, Monty Wood, Norm Woodley, Jim Whitfield, Josephine Rodriguez, Michael Sharkey, David Smith and Andy Dean (taxonomy, ecology and phylogeny), and Mehrdad Hajibabaei, Rodolphe Rougerie (molecular).
Ongoing research in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec has an explicit focus on adapting the library of DNA barcodes for the predators of the spruce budworm into a phylogenetic microarray that will permit more rapid identification of the species involved in predating upon this economically important species.
Recent contributions from this program
Hansson, C., M. Alex Smith, D. H. Janzen and W. Hallwachs (2015) Integrative taxonomy of New World Euplectrus Westwood (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae), with focus on 55 new species from Area de Conservación Guanacaste, northwestern Costa Rica. ZooKeys 485: 1-236 doi: 10.3897/zookeys.485.9124
Smith, M. Alex; Fernández-Triana, José; Eveleigh, Eldon; Gómez, Jaime; Guclu, Coskun; Hallwachs, Winnie; Hebert, Paul; Hrcek, Jan; Huber, John; Janzen, Daniel; Mason, Peter; Miller, Scott ; Quicke, Donald; Rodriguez, Josephine; Rougerie, Rodolphe; Shaw, Mark; Varkonyi, Gergely; Ward, Darren; Whitfield, James and Alejandro Zaldivar-Riveron. (2012) DNA barcoding and the taxonomy of Microgastrinae wasps (Hymenoptera, Braconidae): impacts after eight years and nearly 20,000 sequences. Molecular Ecology Resources. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12038.
Biogeography, phylogeography and spatial ecology of temperate amphibians and ants
For many species in the Great Lakes region of North America the principal determinants of contemporary phylogeography are the historic distance from southern refugia during Pleistocene glaciation. Population genetic studies of freshwater species have demonstrated significant genetic structuring in disjunct habitats (such as river basins), however anthropogenic change (e.g. pollution and dams) have reduced many formerly continuous habitats into subdivided islands. Within amphibian species native to Ontario I am interested in investigating local and regional processes of population isolation (dispersal, metapopulation ecology) coincident with hydrogeographic isolation. Within the ant species of Ontario, I am interested in an inter-specific comparison between those species with winged vs. wingless queens and the geographic distribution of genetic variation, and a comparison of the genetic variation of endemic vs. native species where they co-occur.