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Alex Wild 


The Beetle Tree of Life

Brachinus bombardier beetle

Coleoptera is the most diverse of the insect orders, yet the reasons behind their tremendous diversity are still poorly understood, in part because a strong phylogenetic foundation for the group is lacking.  I am currently working on an NSF-funded "Assembling the Beetle Tree of Life" project in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona, Brigham Young University, CSIRO, Harvard University, and elsewhere to create the first comprehensive phylogeny of the major beetle lineages.

I am especially interested in generating new sources of genetic data for beetle phylogenetics, as previous efforts using mitochondrial genes and ribosomal genes have encountered difficulty resolving the ancient divergences at the base of the beetle tree.  To that end, I am working out protocols for several protein-coding nuclear genes previously unused in beetle systematics. 

Strategus Ox beetle, Arizona, USA

Harvard's BToL project home page

Images © Alex Wild