School of Biological & Chemical Sciences
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
Tel: (0)20 7882 7528 or ext. 4787
Supervised by Dr. Stephen Rossiter (QMUL) and Dr. James Cotton (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute).
In collaboration with Dr. Shiang-Fan Chen (Providence University, Taiwan) and Dr. Yin-Ping Fang (National Chiayi University, Taiwan).
Funded with grants awarded by Central Research Fund (CRF, University of London) and Taiwan National Science Council.
For my PhD, I am studying the tempo and mode of taxonomic diversification at multiple hierarchical levels, focusing on several groups of bats.
At a micro-evolutionary scale, I am comparing range-wide genetic structure among endemic Taiwanese bat species of the genera Kerivoula, Murina, Myotis and Rhinolophus. One of my aims is to determine to what extent common physical and/or biological factors have led to concordant patterns of population genetic structure in these bats. My study animals include lowland species, highland species, and species that range across all altitudes, and I therefore predict that they will have been differentially impacted by Taiwan’s dramatic topography, containing huge altitudinal changes over very short geographic distance (0 to 3000 metres in 70 kilometers).
I am also focusing on the processes that have led to speciation between Murina gracilis and M. recondita, which were reported as new species in 2009. A pilot phylogenetic study showed they are probably sister species, suggesting that they diverged from each other within Taiwan. This represents an unusual system, as some experts have suggested that the occurrence of sister species of mobile animals having limited co-distributions (as is the case of these Murina spp.) represents potential evidence for the occurrence of non-allopatric speciation. To investigate non-allopatric speciation, I am using “isolation-with-migration” models to test on the occurrance of historical gene flow between these species during their divergence. Detection of such gene flow in this special system would add credence that these species initially diverged from each other non-allopatrically.
At a macro-evolutionary scale, I am interested in the factors influencing the tempo and pattern of radiation within large clades of bats. For this, I am constructing dated phylogenies to determine diversification rates and relating my results to environmental factors, biological factors, or interactions between these.
I hope all these different approaches will offer new insights into the processes of speciation and diversification in bats and other groups.
Kuo H-C, Fang Y-P, Csorba G & Lee L-L (2009) Three new species of Murina (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from Taiwan. Journal of Mammalogy, 90, 980-991.
Kuo H-C, Fang Y-P, Csorba G & Lee L-L (2006) The definition of Harpiola (Vespertilionidae: Murininae) and the description of a new species from Taiwan. Acta Chiropterologica, 8, 11–19.