Project Description :
Our laboratory uses DNA sequences and morphological characters to investigate the diversity, evolution and ecology of armored scale insects (class Insecta: order Hemiptera: family Diaspididae), especially in tropical rainforests. Paid lab assistantships are available for students to prepare DNA and microscope slide mounts from individual armored scale insect specimens. For advanced students, independent research projects are also possible. Problems of interest include inferring phylogeny, species boundaries, and population sizes, and testing evolutionary hypotheses. Armored scale insects have bizarre biology ‐‐ extreme sex dimorphism, unusual genetic systems like paternal genome elimination and parthenogenesis, dependence on maternally transmitted endosymbiotic bacteria ‐‐ and are also enormously important as invasive economic pests.