Climate change and ectotherms.
Although climates are clearly changing, it not obvious how climate change will affect most life on Earth. This is because most taxa live at much smaller spatial scales and on much finer temporal scales than those considered by climate scientists. In other words, most of life is SMALL, lives in microclimates, and responds to changes on the order of seconds to days. We're studying how biotic and abiotic objects can act as filters that transform macroenvironments into microenvironments, how much microclimatic diversity is available at small scales, and how those microclimates interact with the physiology of ectothermic invertebrates (mostly insects). To do this, we study the physiology and behavior of invertebrates, and then use models to link those organismal details to information on microclimates and climate change.
Polar gigantism of marine invertebrates.
Polar gigantism describes a fascinating biogeographic pattern in which many marine-invertebrate taxa show distinctly larger body sizes toward the poles. How and why polar giants have evolved has been a mystery ever since this pattern was discovered about 100 years ago. We're studying gigantism in Antarctic sea spiders, which are poster-kids for gigantism--with some Antarctic species reaching the size of dinner plates. With Amy Moran and Bret Tobalske, and students Steve Lane and Caitlin Shishido, we are working on gigantism at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Check our project website for more details.