Our research is focused on understanding how new species are formed. Specifically, we ask how and when adaptation to different ecological conditions contributes to the development of reproductive barriers between subpopulations, such that they may become separate species.
In sexually reproducing organisms, selective mating is a critical step in the process of speciation. Such selective mating can be generated by geographic isolation, but this mechanism leaves many cases unexplained: new species form even when spatial isolation is absent or incomplete. In these cases, selective mating is the outcome of individual behavioural decisions, ultimately driven by natural selection.
We study how the exploitation of a new ecological opportunity, such as a different spatial niche or alternative food source, affects the behaviour of individuals in such a way that gene flow between populations is reduced.