My research interests and experience are centered on the evolution, phylogeography (or the geographic distribution of genetic lineages), conservation, biogeography, systematics and community and behavioral ecology of coral reef fishes. I frequently try to combine these fields, invoking ecology to help explain evolutionary patterns and using molecular tools to test biogeographic and systematic hypotheses.
I am a zoologist by training, but since 1990 I have been working full-time in biodiversity informatics – the application of information technologies to biodiversity science. Academy scientists generate enormous amounts of information as they collect, describe, document, and compare organisms. That information comes in a variety of forms, including text, photographs, DNA sequences, taxonomic names, classifications, distributions maps, and ultimately publications.
I am interested in the patterns and processes that generate and maintain marine biodiversity and working towards solutions for the various environmental issues that are pressing marine ecosystems.
I am currently conducting phylogeographic surveys of Indo-Pacific coral reef fishes and applying a comparative genomics approach to investigate speciation and reticulate evolution in coral reef fishes and the role of color in the diversification of this group.
My principal research interest concerns the systematics of grenadiers, a group of more than 400 deep-sea fishes related to the codfish. Grenadiers are found in all oceans, but 80-90% of the species are confined to subtropical and tropical seas. Most grenadiers live on the continental slope at depths between 200 m and 2000 m, but some range to below 6000 m. A few species are commercially exploited by large trawlers dragging at depths often exceeding 1000 m. The group seems to have evolved in the deep sea, as no shallow-water close relatives are known.
The study of mesophotic reef fish communities is among my major research interests. I am exploring biodiversity and evolutionary processes of reef fishes in isolated seamounts and oceanic islands of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of endemic species and the assessment of their distribution and genetic patterns have contributed to a better understanding about the origin of species and biodiversity in these isolated environments.