Dissertation Funds for Jones: Resolving evolutionary relationships in a clade of desmognathine salamanders

Grants and Contracts Details


Recent radiation events have led some groups in the salamander family Plethodontidae to undergo rapid genetic diversification, creating complex relationships between morphology, ecology and phylogeny. The primary goal of this project is to elucidate the evolutionary history of one of those groups, the Desmognathus quadramaculatus species complex, which has been extensively studied with ambiguous results. I will accomplish this by first using a broad scale discovery-based approach: densely sampling across the geographic range of the species in this group and using genomic markers to assess the degree to which genetic variation is partitioned. The results of this exploratory phase will be used to inform hypotheses regarding historical divergence patterns and build models that will then be tested in a validation-based framework. Additionally, I will attempt to optimize molecular techniques currently untested in the plethodontids due to the difficulties of extrapolating phylogenomic methods to species with large, complex genomes. Thus this study will contribute to our understanding of the evolutionary history of this clade, as well as establish best practices for phylogenomics within the plethodontid family.
Effective start/end date7/8/166/30/18


  • Society of Systematic Biologists: $1,500.00


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