Christopher P. Meyer

     Why are there so many species, and why are they distributed around the world as they are? What are the processes that drive diversification and sustain diversity? Is the diversity we see today the emergent result of the pruning effects of extinction? What are the relative roles of dispersal ability, ecological factors, ocean productivity, habitat heterogeneity, competition, density dependence, and chance? How are insular populations connected to each other?
     My research efforts focus on the patterns and processes of marine diversification with an emphasis on reef-associated taxa of the Indo-West Pacific, the world's largest and most diverse marine region. In general, the work can be partitioned into two phases. First, there needs to be an accounting of diversification currency - what are the evolutionary units? Often we are satisfied with mtDNA lineages as they at least represent some process of diversification. However, these patterns can be confounded by differential sorting, selective sweeps, or introgression. The second phase usually involves using phylogenies to interpret the historical events by falsifying alternative evolutionary scenarios. This can involve the use of molecular clocks, fossil evidence, relative timing, congruence, or character mapping.
     I have concentrated mostly on using snails as our model group, especially cowries, turbinids, limpets and cones. However, our lab has ongoing projects in hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, corals, barnacles, bivalves and other gastropod taxa.