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Abstract Detail

Tropical Biology Section

Smilanich, Angela [1], Forister, Matt [1], Dyer, Lee [1], Jeffrey, Chris [1], Richards, Lora [1], Dodson, Craig [1], Wilson, Joe [2], Tepe, Eric [3], Whitfield, Jim [4], Jaramillo, Alejandra [4], Jahner, Josh [1], Glassmire, Andrea [1], Leonard, Michael [1], McMahon, Kevin [5], Miller, Jim [1], Parks, Kyle [4].

Phylogenetic and phytochemical cascades in the evolution of tropical diversity.

A central goal of modern Biology is to understand the origin and maintenance of biodiversity. In particular, understanding the enormous diversity of tropical communities has been a serious challenge. Our research group addresses this challenge by using a well-studied tropical system composed of plants, specialist caterpillars feeding exclusively on this group of plants, and a group of specialist wasps that attack the caterpillars. The diversity within each of these groups is enormous (>2,000 species), and our goal for this project is to better understand the evolution of biodiversity by testing specific hypotheses addressing patterns of plant chemical evolution and the role of plant chemistry in biodiversity. To address these hypotheses, our collaborative group consists of two synthetic chemists to elucidate the plant chemistry, one molecular ecologist to reconstruct the evolutionary history of each group, three taxonomists to describe and identify organisms, and two chemical ecologists to describe the interaction between each group. The hypothesis that the evolution of one organismal group (i.e. plants in the genus Piper) can affect the evolution of another interacting group (i.e. Eois caterpillars) is not a new idea; however, our approach to address this hypothesis, which involves a third trophic level (parasitoids that attack the herbivores) is novel, as we focus on multiple feeding groups (plants, caterpillars, wasps), which has rarely been undertaken. In addition, our diverse collaborative team allows us to thoroughly explore all aspects of this system to yield high explanatory power for the question addressed. Finally, understanding the evolution of biodiversity will help with conservation efforts to maintain species rich ecosystems so that the interactions that give structure to ecosystems remain intact.

Broader Impacts:

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Related Links:

1 - University of Nevada-Reno, Department of Biology, Reno, NV, 89557, USA
2 - Utah State University, Tooele, UT, 84074, USA
3 - University of Cincinnati, Department of Botany, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, OH, 45221, USA
4 - University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign, Department of Entomology, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA
5 - Carroll University, Waukesha, WI, 53186, USA


Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Grand Salon A - D/Riverside Hilton
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PTB004
Abstract ID:931
Candidate for Awards:None

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