Akito Y. Kawahara, Ph.D.

Associate Professor & CuratorAkito Kawahara
Florida Museum of Natural History
McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity
University of Florida
3215 Hull Rd.
Gainesville, FL 32611
Voicemail: (352) 273-2018
E-mail: kawahara@flmnh.ufl.edu

My research investigates the evolution and diversity of invertebrates, especially the butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). My lab integrates many approaches, including phylogenetic, behavioral, functional genomic, and biodiversity informatics. I am especially interested in understanding how transitions in behavior have shaped invertebrate diversity on both islands and continents. I also conduct 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 Lepidoptera are found.

I generally use coding regions of the genome. Recent work has focused on using RNA-Seq and target capture data to build phylogenies. We also construct insect transcriptomes and genomes and examine gene expression. In the past, I have also combined molecular data with morphological data from extant species and fossils.

Many of my current projects are being conducted with a team of domestic and international collaborators.