I am an evolutionary biologist researching the processes responsible for the origin of new species. Currently I am studying Australian peacock spiders and South American ithomiini butterflies. I combine genomic sequencing with whole-spectrum photography and behavioural experiments in order to gain a more holistic view of evolution.
The peacock spiders of Australia represent a series of recent and rapid radiations. The genus Maratus comprises over 100 species and its males are infamous for the remarkable visual and vibrational dances that they perform to attract females. This extreme sexual dimorphism, together with a lack of observable ecological differentiation between closely-related species, suggests the radiation is driven largely by sexual selection. Unlike ecological radiations, sexual radiations are severely understudied at the genomic and phenotypic level. For this project, I am working as part of a collaboration spanning Australia, the UK, the US, and Germany.