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Connor French

connor.french@siu.eduConnor French

Advisor:  Dr. Jason Brown

Ecological and evolutionary drivers of speciation in a group of Amazonian poison frogs 

Connor is integrating environmental, phenotypic and genomic data in a phylogeographic study of three Peruvian Ameerega species: A. petersi, A. smaragdina, and A. cainarachi.  This group, commonly referred to as the A. petersi group, is a recent evolutionary lineage distributed across the central foothills of the Andes. The two southerly distributed species, A. petersi and A. smaragdina, are morphologically and ecologically indistinguishable. Connor is testing a hypothesis set forth by Brown and Twomey (2009) that the ancestor of these species dispersed into north-central Peru and subsequent isolation resulted in the genetic divergence of each species. More recent introgression caused the divergent A. petersi and A. smaragdina lineages to re-merge into a single species. Connor is sampling genetic data from the entire ranges of each species throughout foothills of the Andes in Peru. To quantify genomic structure of each individual sampled, Connor is using the highly variable flanking regions of ultra-conserved elements to accurately estimate key demographic parameters and evolutionary relationships. The genomic data will also be used to identify divergence times among the species and integrated with time-specific environmental data to infer potential environmental drivers of speciation.