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 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
- This summer we are engaging in some personnel exchanges with our collaborators in the Giribet Lab at Harvard University. In May we enjoyed hosting Harvard postdoc Shahan Derkarabetian for a week here at the Boyer Lab, and at the end of June Macalester student Rina Morisawa '20 headed to the Giribet Lab to continue working towards generating sequence data from New Zealand mite harvestmen using a UCE (ultra-conserved elements) approach.
- Maddison Tuffield '20 and Shannon Dohr '21 joined our group for the summer, and it was great to have them on board! They worked with veteran Boyer Lab members Kata Hahn '20, Rina Morisawa '20, and Eliza Pessereau '19 on next-generation sequencing projects on New Zealand harvestmen as well as a study of daddy long-legs phenology based at Macalester's Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area.
- Congrats to senior lab members Eliza Pessereau, Pietro Tardelli Canedo, and Rainah Ward - they all graduated from Macalester in May and will be missed! Eliza is joining the Peace Corps, Pietro will be working in the Laboratories of Analytical Biology at the Smithsonian, and Rainah is going to be a sea kayaking guide in the San Juan Islands.
- Big congratulations to Pietro Tardelli Canedo on passing his senior honors thesis defense on April 9! Pietro has done beautiful work on phylogeography and male polymorphism in a widespread New Zealand mite harvestman, part of ongoing research funded by our current National Science Foundation grant.
- 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.
- In February I attended the International Congress of Arachnology in Christchurch, New Zealand; it was great to see long-time colleagues and meet new people in a beautiful part of the world. 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 recently published in Ecology and Evolution.) Also, I was very proud to see Boyer Lab alum Caitlin Baker '12 (currently a PhD student in the Giribet Lab at Harvard) take home the top prize for student talks in systematics, evolution, and biogeography!
- 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.