A great deal of the spectacular diversity of life on Earth is thought to emerge through adaptive radiation, the often rapid diversification of species in a single biological lineage to fill a wide-variety of ecological niches. Celebrated examples include the “Cambrian Explosion” of early animals, the diversification of Anolis lizards on the Caribbean Islands, Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos, and the Hawaiian silverswords.

    My research focuses on taxonomically widely divergent systems (see photos at left and below for some examples) and takes an interdisciplinary approach to elucidating the patterns, rate, timing, and drivers of diversification during adaptive radiation in both the recent and the ancient past. By utilizing  molecular phylogenetics, field and laboratory experiments, and comparative modeling methods, I address questions of how and why species multiply.




Intertidal sculpin

Kelp forest sculpin

Matthew Leo Knope, PhD

Geological and Environmental Sciences

Paleobiology Lab, Stanford University

385 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305 USA

E-mail: knope@stanford.edu

Marine clam

Hawaiian plant

Brittle star

Photo credits: K.A. Tice; except Hawaiian plant Bidens cosmoides by

G. Daida