We work to discover, describe, and understand the diversity of invertebrate animal life. For the past several years we have been documenting new species of arachnids from the rainforests of the Australian Wet Tropics and testing hypotheses about their evolutionary history. Many Macalester undergraduates have traveled to this beautiful corner of the world (pictured above) as part of this project; you can read about some of their adventures here, here, and here. We also work on the ecology and evolution of local Minnesota daddy long-legs, as well as local freshwater mussels. Our research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, and the National Park Service.
News from the Boyer Lab
- Mercedes Burns (Macalester '06) and I presented our collaborative research at the 2018 Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier, France - a very pleasant venue for a meeting! Working with honors student Penny Kahn '17 and Macalester chemist Dennis Cao, we found evidence for 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 summer in Ecology and Evolution.
- The final paper on our work in Australia has just been published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Jill Oberski '16 is the first author, four other Boyer Lab alums are coauthors on this work, and we acknowledge the contribution of the many other Macalester students who have been involved. This is the culmination of many years of work, so we are very gratified to have it out at last!
- 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 early May to meet with our collaborators on our new 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.
- I was gratified to hear that I'm being promoted to full professor! Two other Macalester bio profs were promoted the same morning, so we had a departmental celebration with pre-lunch cake and champagne. Good times!