Lab Members

Graduate Students


Ph.D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2007-present)

B.S., Biology, UNC Chapel Hill (2006)

Research interests: I am interested in evolutionary ecomorphology, with a particularemphasis on functional trait evolution in genomic systems. I am currently addressing questions involving parallel adaptation and speciation in the threespine stickleback model system from a functional morphology perspective.

Recent publications:

McGee, Matthew D., and Peter C. Wainwright. “Convergent evolution as a generator of phenotypic diversity in threespine stickleback.” Evolution 67, no. 4(2013): 1204-1208. download pdf.

McGee, Matthew D., and Peter C. Wainwright. “Sexual dimorphism in the feeding mechanism of threespine stickleback.” The Journal of experimental biology 216, no. 5 (2013): 835-840. download pdf.

Schmitz, Lars, Ryosuke Motani, Christopher E. Oufiero, Christopher H. Martin, Matthew D. McGee, Ashlee R. Gamarra, Johanna J. Lee, and Peter C. Wainwright. “Allometry indicates giant eyes of giant squid are not exceptional.” BMC evolutionary biology 13, no. 1 (2013): 45. download pdf.

Pfennig DW, McGee M. Resource polyphenism increases species richness: a test of the hypothesis. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society of London, Series B. 365: 577-591. download pdf.

For more information about Matt’s research, contact him at


Ph.D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2010-present)

B.S., Conservation Biology, Clemson University (2010)

Research Interests: I am curious about evolutionary processes associated with functional morphology, particularly in fishes. Why are they so diverse? How does their ecology affect their evolution and phenotype? What are the repeated patterns in functional adaptations? I plan to address these questions using phylogenetic comparative methods, performance experiments, and ecomorphological analyses.

For more information about Patrick’s research, contact him at


Ph. D. candidate, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis(2011-present)

B. A., Biology, Cornell University (2011)

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in using phylogenetic and morphological approaches to understand the patterns and processes shaping the remarkable diversity of fishes. In particular, I am interested in studying the interplay between functional innovation and functional constraint and how both affect morphological and lineage diversification rates. My current focus is on the Syngnathiformes (e.g. seahorses and pipefish), a group of fishes with unusual and novel modes of locomotion, reproduction, and feeding. Recent work in other labs has indicated that seahorses and pipefish feed using an elastic recoil mechanism. As part of my dissertation, I plan to investigate this feeding mechanism in more detail and to characterize its phylogenetic distribution in order to understand the evolution of this functional innovation and how it has shaped the evolutionary history of the Syngnathiformes.

Recent publications:

Longo S., M. Riccio, A.R. McCune. 2013. Homology of lungs and gasbladders: insights from arterial vasculature. Journal of Morphology.  274:687-703.

For more information about Sarah’s research, visit her website or contact her at

Postdoctoral Researchers


Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (November 2008-present)

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, USA (2005-2008)

Ph.D., University of Virginia (Sept 2005)

B.A., Oxford University, UK (June 2001)

Research interests: I seek to understand the fundamental processes driving large-scale macroevolutionary and macroecological patterns by utilising phylogenetic comparative methods. My previous research focused on mammalian evolution, in particular cetacean size and life history evolution as well as an ongoing collaborative project set on the evolution of mammalian dietary strategies.  I also dabble in phylogenetics, in particular methods for combining previously published trees into new phylogenies (supertrees). In the Wainwright lab I am applying my skills to understanding the evolution of the labrid radiation from a morphological perspective and occasionally building molecular phylogenies.

Several recent publications:

Price SA, Gittleman JL. 2007. Hunting to extinction: biology and regional economy influence extinction risk and the impact of hunting in artiodactyls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274:1845-1851.

Bininda-Emonds ORP, Cardillo M, Jones KE, MacPhee RDE, Beck RMD, Grenyer R, Price SA, Vos RA, Gittleman JL, Purvis A. 2007. The delayed rise of present-day mammals. Nature 446:507-512.

Ezenwa VO, Price SA, Altizer S, Vitone ND, Cook KC. 2006. Host traits and species richness in even and odd-toed hoofed mammals, Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla. Oikos 115:526-536.

Price SA, Bininda-Emonds ORP, Gittleman AL. 2005. A complete phylogeny of the whales, dolphins and even-toed hoofed mammals (Cetartiodactyla). Biological Reviews 80:445-473.

For more information about Sam’s research, visit her website or contact her at


Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (2013-present)

Center for Population Biology Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Davis (2011-2013)

Ph.D., Harvard University (2011)

B.A., University of Chicago (2003)

Research interests: I’m interested in how ecological factors shape the evolution and maintenance of organismal diversity over macroevolutionary timescales. I’ve mainly worked on Anolis lizards, and I’ve used this group to investigate the influence of interspecific competition on rates of trait evolution, and to reveal that stable macroevolutionary adaptive landscapes can result in deterministic convergence among entire clades.

I’m currently interested in comparing various macroevolutionary patterns that might arise from the process of adaptive radiation. Evidence for adaptive radiation appears to be relatively rare in phylogenetic comparative data (especially compared to evidence from fossils) but it’s unclear why this might be the case. I’m investigating several potential causes, including the suitability of alternative models of adaptive radiation, the durability of macroevolutionary signatures in trait data, and the statistical power of popular methods for testing for adaptive radiation.

Several recent publications:

Mahler, D. L., T. Ingram, L. J. Revell, and J. B. Losos. 2013. Exceptional convergence on the macroevolutionary landscape in island lizard radiations. Science 341:292-295. download pdf.

Ingram, T., and D.L. Mahler. 2013. SURFACE: Detecting convergent evolution from comparative data by fitting Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models with stepwise AIC. Methods in Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12034. download pdf.

Mahler, D.L., L.J. Revell, R.E. Glor, and J.B. Losos. 2010. Ecological opportunity and the rate of morphological evolution in the diversification of Greater Antillean anoles. Evolution 64:2731-2745. download pdf.

Losos, J.B., and D.L. Mahler. 2010. Adaptive radiation: the interaction of ecological opportunity, adaptation, and speciation. Pp. 381-420 in M. A. Bell, D. J. Futuyma, W. F. Eanes, and J. S. Levinton, Eds. Evolution Since Darwin: The First 150 Years. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. download pdf.

For more information about Luke’s research, visit his website or contact him at


Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (September 2012 -present)

Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Biology, University of Amherst & Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley (2008-2011)

Ph.D., University Marine Biological Station, Millport, UK (2008)

D.E.A. (Master’s), University of Lille, France (2003)

License (Bachelor’s), University of Brest, France (2001)

Research interests: My research interest lies at the interplay between function, form and evolution. I take a multidisciplinary approach using morphometrics, biomechanics, population biology and behavioral studies in my research. During my PhD project, I investigated what function was associated with one particular crustacean claw morphology and how natural selection influenced its form-function relationship. As part of my previous postdoctoral project, I investigated the evolution of another crustacean appendage: the mantis shrimp raptorial claw. These appendages are capable of producing acceleration comparable to a 9 mm caliber bullet to strike hard-shelled prey. I learned how such a feature might have evolved. I came to the Wainwright lab to learn new methods and move onto different organisms: the fishes. Here I hope to learn new skills which will allow me to investigate how morphological diversity evolves and why variations of forms are so unequally distributed across the tree of life.

Several recent publications:

McHenry, M. J., Claverie, T., Rosario, M. V. & Patek, S. N. (2012) Gearing for speed slows the predatory strike of a mantis shrimp. Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 1231-1245.  download pdf.

Claverie, T., Chan, E. & Patek, S. N. (2011) Modularity and scaling in fast movements: power amplification in mantis shrimp. Evolution 65, 443-461. download pdf.

Claverie, T. & Smith, I. P. (2010) Allometry and sexual dimorphism in the chela shape of the squat lobster, Munida rugosa. Aquatic Biology 8, 179-187. download pdf.

Claverie, T. & Smith, I. P. (2007) Functional significance of an unusual chela dimorphism in a marine decapod: specialisation as a weapon? Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274, 3033-3038. download pdf.

For more information about Thomas’ research, visit his website or contact him at


Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (September 2012 -present)

Ph.D., Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, Mexico (2012)

M.Sc., Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (I.P.N), Mexico (2006)

B.Sc., Marine Biology, Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Colombia (2000)

Research Interests: I am extremely interested in the study of marine fish evolutionary history, by building phylogenies and using them to address hypotheses about processes that drive evolutionary and ecological patterns. I aim to explore empirically the influence of habitat (particularly reefs) on morphological and lineage diversification rates by integrating molecular phylogenetic reconstruction, phylogenetic comparative methods, morphometrics and natural history.

My current focus is on Haemulidae (grunts, sweetlips), a group of marine fishes with diverse habitat preferences and nocturnal/diel activity patterns. My recent work, from molecular and morphological data, indicates that the lineage diversity and morphological disparity within grunts depends to some extent on feeding niche and habitat choice, with reef dwelling species having much higher rates of morphological evolution compared to their non-reef counterparts. In the Wainwright lab I’m looking to learn from a multidisciplinary team and delve deeper into reef fish evolution.

Several recent publications:

Tavera JJ, Acero A, Balart E, and Bernardi G. 2012. Molecular phylogeny of grunts (Teleostei, Haemulidae), with an emphasis on the ecology, evolution, and speciation history of New World species. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 12:57. download pdf.

Price SA, Tavera JJ, Near TJ, and Wainwright PC. 2012. Elevated rates of morphological and functional diversification in reef-dwelling haemulid fishes. Evolution. In press. download pdf.

Tavera JJ, Acero A, De la Cruz-Agüero J, and Balart E. 2011. Phylogeny and reclassification of the species of two neotropical grunt genera, Anisotremus and Genyatremus (Perciformes: Haemulidae), based on morphological evidence. Journal of Zoological and Systematic Evolutionary Research, 49(4), 315–323. download pdf.

For more information about Jose’s research, contact him at


NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of
California, Davis (February 2013 -present)

Ph.D., Organisms and Environment, University of California, Berkeley (2011)

M.A., Evolution and Ecology, San Francisco State University (2005)

B.A., English Literature, University of California, Berkeley (1999)

My research interests focus on functional morphology, particularly in
relation to diversification, ecology, and behavior. I have been
examining two closely related spider families (the pelican and
trap-jaw spiders, families Archaeidae and Mecysmaucheniidae) that have
both evolved unusual jaw/carapace morphologies, which directly relate
to their predatory behaviors. Working with trap-jaw spiders, I hope to
address how diversification rates change in relation to rates of
morphological and functional change as the trap-jaw structure evolves
increasing complexity. Working on pelican spiders, my research focuses
on understanding the timing and nature of diversification patterns in
relation to the evolution of the novel jaw/carapace morphology, with an
emphasis on ancient speciation patterns in Madagascar.

Several recent publications:

Wood, H.M, Matzke, N.J., Gillespie, R.G., Griswold, C.E. 2013.
Treating fossils as terminal taxa in divergence time estimation
reveals ancient vicariance patterns in the Palpimanoidea spiders.
Systematic Biology 62:264-284. download pdf.

Wood, H.M, Griswold, C.E., Gillespie, R.G. 2012. Phylogenetic
placement of pelican spiders (Archaeidae, Araneae), with insight into
evolution of the “neck” and predatory behaviors of the superfamily
Palpimanoidea. Cladistics 28:598–626. download pdf.

Griswold, C., Wood, H.M., Carmichael, A. 2012. The lace web spiders
(Araneae, Phyxelididae) of Madagascar: phylogeny, biogeography and
taxonomy. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 164:728–810.

Wood, H.M., Griswold, C.E., Spicer, G.S. 2007. Phylogenetic
relationships within an endemic group of Malagasy ‘assassin spiders’
(Araneae, Archaeidae): ancestral character reconstruction, convergent
evolution and biogeography. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
45:612-619. download pdf.

For more information about Hannah’s research, visit her website or contact her at


Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (2013-present)

Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz (2010-2013)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University (2007-2010)

Ph.D., University of California, Davis (2007)

B.A., University of Chicago (2000)

Research interests: I am an evolutionary biologist and functional morphologist. My research goals are to identify general patterns of evolutionary diversification in vertebrates and to understand the processes that give rise to them. I apply phylogenetic comparative methods to integrate morphological and functional measurements for species with information about their evolutionary relationships. This approach allows me to test hypotheses about how, when and in what manner the process of diversification has changed over time and among lineages. My work has highlighted the importance of ecological and functional constraints on morphological diversification in several radiations of lizards and teleost fish.

I am currently involved in several studies centered on morphological diversification. In one study, I am examining the adaptive and anatomical basis of elongate body form in disparate vertebrate groups. I am also testing the effects of transitions between biting and suction feeding on diversification in eels (Anguilliformes) and looking within biting eels to determine how cranial form evolves in response to differential demands of capturing evasive versus hard-shelled prey.

Several recent publications:

Collar, D.C., J.A. Schulte II and J.B. Losos. 2011. Evolution of extreme body size disparity in monitor lizards (Varanus). Evolution 65:2664-2680.

Holzman, R.*, D.C. Collar*, R.S. Mehta and P.C. Wainwright. 2011. Functional complexity can mitigate performance trade-offs. American Naturalist 177:E69-E83. (* equal contribution)

Collar, D.C., B.C. O’Meara, P.C. Wainwright and T.J. Near. 2009. Piscivory limits diversification of feeding morphology in centrarchid fishes. Evolution 63:1557-1573.

Revell, L.J.* and D.C. Collar*. 2009. Phylogenetic analysis of the evolutionary correlation using likelihood. Evolution 63:1090-1100. (* equal contribution)

For more information about David’s research, visit his website or contact him at

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