Our early work focused on how plant-insect interactions shape species diversity in an adaptive radiation. The Hawaiian Archipelago presents a chronologically replicated island system with high levels of endemicity (90-99% in plants and animals). Our work leverages the island geology to understand speciation patterns in the endemic leafhoppers, Nesophrosyne (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Our work has revealed that the Nesophrosyne are hyper-diverse (>200 species) and specialize on a single host-plant species. The genus colonized Hawaii ~3-4 Mya from the Western Pacific rim. Species diversified rapidly by specializing on the endemic flora. Island geology acted as a multiplier of species diversity as insects dispersed to new volcanic mountains. However, these ecological and geological opportunities were eventually exhausted. This work provided the foundational understanding of how host-plants and geology can shape insect diversity.
Recent collaboration with Rosemary Gillespie and folks on the Hawaiian Biodiversity Dimensions grant
Recent work on the influence of host plants and geography on species diversification in hawaii