Akito Y. Kawahara, Ph.D.
Professor & Curator
Florida Museum of Natural History
McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity
University of Florida
3215 Hull Rd.
Gainesville, FL 32611
Voicemail: (352) 273-2018
My research lab studies the evolution and diversity of insects, especially the butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). We apply many approaches to understand fundamental questions about insect diversity — why are there so many species of insects on Earth? How do behaviors, such as flying during the day or at night, affect diversity, vision, and other aspects of insects? How did the thousands of insects with ultrasonic hearing organs evolve, and do they all use this ability to escape predators like echolocating bats in the dark night? Methods that my lab uses include phylogenetic, behavioral, functional genomic, and biodiversity informatics. With collaborators, we also study how human impacts, such as habitat loss and anthropogenic light are affecting some of the most common insects around us.
My lab also utilizes insect transcriptomes and genomes and examine gene expression, and also conducts higher-level phylogenetic work to examine evolutionary scenarios and improve classifications. Biogeographic work has focused on the Hawaiian archipelago where some of the most unusual and diverse butterflies and moths are found.
Many of my current projects are being conducted with a team of domestic and international collaborators.
Further information can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akito_Y._Kawahara