Thu, 06 Feb 2014, 3.00pm @ CR1: Yuchen Ang on “Modern morphological techniques, and the evolutionary biology and taxonomy of Sepsidae (Diptera)”

PhD Defense Seminar cum Oral Examination

Modern morphological techniques, and the evolutionary biology and taxonomy of Sepsidae (Diptera)
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Yuchen Ang

Graduate Student
Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS

Thursday, 06 Feb 2014: 3.00pm
@ DBS Conference Room, S3 Level 5
Supervisor: Prof Meier, Rudolf

All are welcome

Abstract:

“In my thesis, I pursue my research interests in morphology by conducting a series of studies on the evolutionary biology and taxonomy of Sepsidae (Diptera), using various bioimaging techniques, such as micro-computered tomography, photomicrography and scanning electron-microscopy.

First, I document how de-novo moveable appendages can evolve from flat, plate-like structures on the male abdomen and show that this unique functional structure has evolved twice within Sepsidae. Second, I demonstrate that sexual selection highly increases morphological divergence by quantifying how the rates of evolution in sexually dimorphic structures (i.e., subject to sexual selection) are much higher than in monomorphic structures (i.e., only subject to viability selection).

Third, I explore the benefits of coupling taxonomy with information technology by creating a digital reference collection featuring 140 sepsid species and a web-tool for online species identification, as well as publishing species descriptions that are simultaneously featured as taxonomic entries in a wiki-based platform. Lastly, I show how morphological data-richness and iterative taxonomy can address inadequately diagnostic species descriptions as well as resolve ‘cryptic’ species proposed based on DNA sequences as well as disjunctive distributions in species.

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