What does this lab work on? A phylogenetically diverse assemblage of studies of diversity - how are species distributed, how are alleles within species distributed, how do these patterns relate to one another? In some ways it is ecology - the distribution and abundance of cell types in a developing functional organ, the variation in abundance of microbes in coral mucus, the interaction of epibiont life history with the distribution and abundance of hosts. In some ways we do genetics - at least, we study how heritable variation can distinguish parasite from host, how organisms move through the environment using DNA as a tracking device, whether a trait is environmental or genetically determined.

And in most cases, the organism we work on is wet. Marine, freshwater, salt marsh, they’re all just fine.

Much of our work is geographic in nature. Understanding the mechanisms that maintain diversity and limit the distribution of organisms is fundamental to explaining global patterns that exist in marine communities, and how these patterns will change with the climate. Working with Jamie Pringle and Jeb Byers, we have two audacious tasks ahead of us: gleaning distributional and life history data from the literature and extant databases to build a matrix of population and species ranges for the western Atlantic Ocean, and using these data to parameterize and extend our theoretical work on the selective and competitive differential needed to maintain range limits among and within (in the case of alleles) species distributions.

The most recent publication from this work:
Pappalardo, P., J. M. Pringle, J. P. Wares, J. E. Byers. 2015. The location, strength, and mechanisms behind marine biogeographic boundaries of the east coast of North America. Ecography, DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01135

Additionally, we want to apply this train of thought to an empirical system. Jamie and Jeb have been doing so with the different genetic strains of the green crab Carcinus maenas that have been introduced to New England, watch for that publication soon. However I have been more intrigued by cline formation in natural populations, starting with my work in the barnacle Balanus glandula and carrying on to more recent work (collaborating with Sergio Navarrete) in the barnacle Notochthamalus scabrosus. Our current funded project provides an opportunity to do next-generation sequencing and genotyping on Notochthamalus along the entire distribution (from Peru to southern Chile), tie observations and experiments on the genetic cline into nearshore physical oceanography, and identify where the likely ‘source’ populations are in the system. One of the great things about this work is the rare chance to work with a near-replicate biogeographic system, as we can compare the dynamics of the temperate eastern Pacific in the northern and southern hemispheres (similar current and upwelling patterns, similar community composition, similar ecological shifts associated with upwelling, and so on).

This work has JUST been published in Ecology & Evolution:
Ewers-Saucedo, C., J.M. Pringle, H. H. Sepúlveda, J. E. Byers, S. A. Navarrete, J. P. Wares. The oceanic concordance of phylogeography and biogeography: a case study in Notochthamalus. Ecology & Evolution DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2205

Stay tuned for news on these and other projects... (n.b. as of May 2016 this page is out of date a bit)