Why are there so many Galeommatoidean clams in the sea? Speciation of a group of marine clams
Mentor: Professor Diarmaid Ó Foighil
Galeommatoidea is a superfamily of hyper-diverse marine clams. Those animals often exhibit exotic morphological features and reproductive behaviors. In addition, many species in this group have commensal life styles with other marine invertebrates (i.e. they live on or inside other marine animals but do not harm them). In this project, we will investigate speciation processes within this group and test various hypotheses regarding mechanisms that may lead to their unusual diversity. We will especially look at how commensalism may affect their speciation rate and diversification patterns. We will mainly use molecular phylogenetic approaches to address above questions; however morphological studies are also used to accompany the analysis.