Phylogeny of sea cucumbers
I’m involved in building the phylogeny of sea cucumbers. We are using a bottom-up approach. We started by sequencing fast evolving mitochondrial markers which allowed us to discover several species complexes. In the future, we are going to sequence additional markers to resolve higher level phylogenetic relationships. We presented the first results of this sequencing effort at the 11th International Coral Symposium, the Fifth North American Echinoderm conference and the 13th International Echinoderm Conference.
Defining species limits in “Holothuria impatiens”
Based on our sequencing effort, it appears the sea cucumbers called Holothuria impatiens form a complex of cryptic species. Thought to be circumtropical, this “species” actually consists of at least ten reciprocally monophyletic, well defined, “phylogenetic species”. In collaboration with four undergraduate students, I am looking for morphological differences among these “phylogenetic species”. We are going to sequence additional nuclear markers to build a robust phylogeny that would allow us to infer the evolutionary history in this rapid radiation.
Long-term evolution of coral communities
Coral reefs are subject to disturbances affecting community at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Studying the evolution of the community on a decennial period can provide insights on its response to disturbances. Do all species react the same way to a given perturbation? Does the species composition change after the perturbation? How long does it take for the community to come back to a pre-perturbation state? Answering these questions will help to understand the temporal dynamic of coral communities.