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Curator of Vertebrates and ichthyoplankton specialist
My primary research interests are the systematics of fishes. I have specialized in ichthyoplankton identification and the inclusion of larval characters in systematics.
As the curator of vertebrates I oversee the fish, bird and the mammal collection of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
While at the Natural History Museum in London, I developed a strong interest in the early life history of larval fishes. I enjoyed the painstaking attention to detail involved in this type of work, and was greatly interested in how the identifying characteristics often differ between larval and adult fishes of the same species. Besides the beauty and the vast diversity of larval fishes that caught my eye, they also play a crucial role in comparative morphology, phylogenetic systematics, conservation and community structures in ecosystems. My interest and expertise in the identification of larval fishes led to invitations to several larval fish and taxonomic workshops.
Anatomists in the 19th century, such as Ernst Haeckel and Karl Ernst von Baer discovered that the ontogeny of organisms provides information from their evolutionary history (recapitulation). Based on my interest in the evolution of fishes, I am analyzing the anatomy and phylogenetic relationships of actinopterygian fishes, ranging from basal lineages such as sturgeons, gars, and bowfins, up to highly derived taxa such as pufferfishes and their relatives. However, my main interest are deep-sea fishes. As examples of my current projects, I am working with G. David Johnson from the Smithsonian on the astonishing anatomical metamorphosis of the two species of telescopefishes of the genus Gigantura (G. chuni and G. indica). In a collaborative work with James Maclaine, from the Natural History Museum in London, UK, I am analyzing the osteological development of the ragfish, Icosteus aenigmaticus, in order to understand its phylogenetic affinities.
Together with Drs. Brian L. Sidlauskas (ichthyology), Douglas Robinson (birds) and Clinton Epps (mammals), I am responsible for the curation and management of our vertebrate collection.