SEQloporus = using genomic-scale sequence (=”SEQ”) data for evolutionary inference in North American spiny lizards (Sceloporus). The term was coined by our lab manager Tony Gill.

Resolving rapid radiations and recent speciation in North American spiny lizards (Sceloporus). NSF-DEB #1144630
Understanding rapid bursts of speciation requires new phylogenetic methods as well as large data sets. For this project, we are studying a group of lizards (Sceloporus) to resolve rapid radiations and recent speciation events in the tree of life. The accumulation of new species over brief time intervals characterizes both of these events, which are challenging to elucidate because they leave limited genetic signatures across the genome. We are applying new DNA sequencing technologies to investigate rapid speciation; determining the feasibility of analyzing extremely large genomic datasets using new models; and stress-testing inference methods to identify the analytical upper limits of dataset size and complexity.

Broader impacts include four activities: 1) education and public outreach at The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, including a new public exhibit on the integration of genomics and natural history research, 2) postdoctoral mentoring, 3) undergraduate and graduate student training, and 4) the acquisition and dissemination of new comparative genomics data. Lizards in the North American genus Sceloporus are prominent in comparative studies of ecology, physiology, life history evolution, and chromosome evolution. Our research will yield a robust new estimate of the evolutionary history of these lizards, a valuable commodity for the comparative biology community.