Research in Zoology
Evolution and Diversity
Much of the research in this group is built around the collections of the Museum of Zoology and the interests of its curators. A major theme is the origin and radiation of tetrapods. Jenny Clack studies early tetrapod fossils from East Greenland, Scotland and elsewhere, which provide new evidence for the origin of tetrapods from their fish ancestors and their early diversification. Rob Asher focuses on how the many radiations of mammals, particularly insectivorangrade mammals from North America, Africa, and Madagascar, are interrelated. William Foster studies the ecology of insects living in tropical rainforest and oil palm plantations, and the evolution of social behaviour in aphids. Richard Preece studies land snail diversity, both in the present and in the context of climate change over the last million years. Chris Jiggins works on the evolution of mimicry patterns and speciation in butterflies. Another major interest is ‘Evo-Devo’, the relationship between the processes of Development and Evolution. This theme links closely with the research of the Cell and Developmental biology groups. Michael Akam’s interests centre on the evolution of body plans and patterning mechanisms within the arthropods. Paul Brakefield is extending experimental work on the ecology, 'Evo-Devo' and evolutionary genetics of a model species of mycalesine butterfly to describe pattern and process in parallel geographical radiations of the 250 or so related species in the Old World tropics.