Areas of interest: Biogeography, Phylogeography, Evolution, Conservation
The evolution of reef fishes is a controversial and complex topic that has been amply investigated. It is commonly believed that ecological and biological aspects of these species, in concert with environmental changes, are the main factors acting on reef fish evolutionary rates. Geographic and oceanographic barriers also exert strong influences on the biogeography of reef fishes, especially for cryptic species, which present low mobility range and habitat specialization.
While larger reef fish have been well studied in these systems, little is known of cryptic reef fishes (CRF). In general, CRF are habitat-specific, often small and maintain highly diverse assemblages. As a result of this set of characteristics, CRF present an interesting group of model organisms to test natural boundaries in a biogegraphic, phylogeographic, and evolutionary contexts.
During my PhD, I will investigate ecological aspects of the CRF assemblages along the NSW coast, Australia. Moreover, by looking into distributional limits and genetic characteristics of CRF populations, I will test whether geographic and oceanographic features of Australian coastline act as important barriers for CRF, thus defining the main regions of diversity and endemism for these species. I am also studying the genetic structure in some species may solve taxonomic issues commonly observed in CRF and give further insight into population<a href=”http://acropora.bio.mq.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Screen-shot-2011-06-29-at-1.29.12-PM1.png