PhD supervisors: Prof. L. Beheregaray and Assoc. Prof. L. Möller
My research within the Molecular Ecology Lab largely focuses on the diversification and evolution of a group of native freshwater fishes, the pygmy perches (consisting on the genus Nannoperca and Nannatherina balstoni). Beginning in 2016 with my Honours project, this entailed a phylogenetic analysis of the pygmy perch clade using genomic-level data, with the explicit aim of clarifying evolutionary relationships, biogeographical scenarios, taxonomic inadequacies and conservation legislation for the group. The application of the ddRAD dataset resolved conflicted relationships between species suggested from significantly smaller genetic datasets, highlighting the robustness and application of genomics. Furthermore, a species delimitation framework identified several previously cryptic species within the group, which await description and relevant conservation protocol. Additionally, the ancient nature of the group allowed me to address an incongruence biogeographical continent-wide pattern in the pygmy perches, which demonstrate a remarkably unique distribution of species.
These findings have lead me to continue my work on the evolution of the pygmy perches, with a key focus in understanding the adaptive diversification of the species. Using a comparative phylogeographic framework, my PhD project aims to analyse genomic signals of adaptation across various scales of divergence, from between recently-isolated populations within N. australis to species-level diversification in the N. vittata species complex. The results of this project will provide insights not only into the adaptive potential and patterns of pygmy perches, but also to furthering our understanding of the genetic signals of adaptation and speciation.
– 2016 Honours project: