Research Projects

Piakey. An illustrated web-based identification guide to the invasive ants of the Pacific Islands. The website includes a Lucid key, species pages, specimen images, video clips, and an illustrated glossary.


The Ants of Fiji. A project dedicated to documenting the taxonomy, distributions and ecology of Fiji’s 187 ant species. The Ants of Fiji monograph will be published shortly by University of California Press Publications in Entomology, and will be freely available as a full-color, open access pdf. Please visit the Fiji project in Antweb for specimen images, species pages and distribution data.


Pheidole roosevelti group. This clade of ants of morphologically aberrant ants is endemic to Fiji. After revising the taxonomy of the group and describing new species, I worked with Corrie Moreau on a molecular-based phylogeny to test hypotheses concerning the group’s biogeographical origins and morphological evolution. Evan Economo and I are now using these Pheidole ants as a model for test predictions of the taxon cycle hypothesis.


Lordomyrma. These rare and elegant species are among the few ant genera that have their center of diversity based in the Pacific Islands. After revising the taxonomy of the Fijian taxa and describing new species, I worked with Andrea Lucky on a molecular-based phylogeny to test hypotheses concerning the group’s biogeographical origins. Our results suggest the genus probably originated in mainland Asia, with
subsequent colonization of Australia and the Pacific. All 11 Fijian Lordomyrma species are believed to have descended from a single New Guinea ancestor that colonized the Fijian archipelago approximately 8.8 million years ago.

Taxon CycleThe taxon cycle is a hypothesis advanced by E.O. Wilson that predicts a process in which successive waves of widespread disturbance-tolerant species from continental systems colonize marginal habitat on islands, expand into less disturbed forest interiors, radiate into isolated high-elevation endemics, and then either colonize a new island island or go extinct. Evan Economo and I found strong support for the hypothesis by analyzing the distributions of 183 Fijian ant species belonging to four endemism classes across disturbance and elevation gradients (download paper). Evan, Lacey Knowles and I recently received an NSF grant to build upon this work and the Pheidole research I published with Corrie Moreau.