Contact Amanda Evans
Museum of Comparative Zoology
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
amevans [at] oeb.harvard.edu
Phone: (617) 496-4091
Fax: (617) 495-5567
Recent publications & presentations
Evans, A.M., and B.D. Farrell. Phylogeny and host use evolution of the jewel beetles (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Presentation at the 2005 meetings of the Society for the Study of Evolution, Fairbanks, AK.
I am broadly interested in the evolution of interactions between insects and plants, and the role of these interactions in generating ecological, morphological, and species diversity.
My dissertation research addresses the evolutionary significance of shifts in larval feeding habits in the Buprestidae, a family of phytophagous beetles. Although buprestids are best known as woodboring beetles, several diverse genera within the family feed within leaf tissue as larvae. Shifts to the leafmining habit may spur more frequent shifts among host plant taxa because leafmining is associated with a higher rate of parasitism. I am testing the hypothesis that leafmining is a key innovation that led to multiple adaptive radiations in the Buprestidae by examining the effects of shifts to leafmining on diversification of species, ecology and morphology. Although adaptive radiations are defined by diversification in each of these dimensions, no previous study has linked all three processes in the context of a key innovation.
I have generated a molecular phylogeny of the Buprestidae, which has allowed me to identify multiple independent origins of the leafmining habit. Species diversity and host use disparity of leafmining clades will be compared to those of their sister clades to determine whether shifts to leafmining enhanced diversification of species and of ecology. I am currently completing a morphological study of the buprestids to enhance the phylogenetic analysis and to identify morphological traits associated with each feeding habit. Finally, a comparison of morphological disparity among leafmining and woodboring groups will address the third component of adaptive radiation.