We work to discover, describe, and understand the diversity of invertebrate animal life. Our main focus is documenting new species of arachnids from the beautiful forests of New Zealand (above) and testing hypotheses about their evolutionary history. We recently wrapped up several years of work in the Australian Wet Tropics; you can read about our adventures Down Under here, here, and here. We also work on the ecology and evolution of local Minnesota daddy long-legs and freshwater mussels. Our research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, and the National Park Service. Check us out on Instagram at #boyerlabmacalester!
News from the Boyer Lab
- In February I attended the International Congress of Arachnology in Christchurch, New Zealand. Boyer Lab alum Caitlin Baker '12 (currently a PhD student in the Giribet Lab at Harvard) took home the top student prize for student talks in systematics, evolution, and biogeography! I gave a talk on a study carried out in collaboration with Mercedes Burns (Macalester '06), honors student Penny Kahn '17, and Macalester chemist Dennis Cao on convergent evolution of nuptial gift chemistry associated with convergence in genital morphology in leiobunine harvestmen, commonly known as daddy long-legs. This work was published earlier this year in Ecology and Evolution.
- We spent two wonderful weeks doing fieldwork in New Zealand this January! Current students Eliza Pessereau '19, Pietro Tardelli Canedo '19, and Rina Morisawa '20 joined forces with alum Caitlin Baker '12 (currently a PhD student in the Giribet Lab at Harvard) to collect harvestmen all over the incredible forests of the South Island.
- We have a new paper out on mating behavior in daddy long-legs! Students Raine Ikagawa, Penny Kahn, and Eva Larsen (all Macalester class of '17) worked with our collaborator Kasey Fowler-Finn to expand our knowledge of basic reproductive biology in these familiar but under-studied animals. Videotaping harvestmen mating was a lot of fun - the jokes wrote themselves every day.
- Pietro Tardelli Canedo '19 and I traveled to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in May to meet with our collaborators on our new NSF-supported project about biogeography of New Zealand Opiliones. In the slideshow above you will see Pietro and me hanging out with Gonzalo Giribet and Caitlin Baker '12, a Boyer Lab alum who is currently a PhD student in the Giribet Lab.
- Our grant proposal on diversity and biogeography of the harvestmen of New Zealand has been funded by the National Science Foundation! We will be working with Gonzalo Giribet, Gustavo Hormiga, and folks from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to map and describe the Opiliones of New Zealand and test hypotheses about their evolutionary history.