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Graduate student Dan Chang is working on characterization of conotoxin gene family evolution, patterns of genetic differentiation at conotoxin loci, ontogenetic shifts in venoms and diets of Conus species and patterns of conotoxin gene expression.
Graduate student Paula Teichholtz is investigating patterns of population differentiation and development of ectoparasitic marine snails.
Graduate student Samantha Flowers is examining the patterns of genetic and morphological variation of freshwater snails.
Graduate student Alex Moore is examining the morphological and genetic distinctiveness of a highly restricted freshwater snail species.
Funds from the National Science Foundation supported the
study of the evolution of venoms and feeding specializations of a set of closely
related Conus species.
We specifically compared venom compositions and diets of several populations of three Conus species from the Indo-Pacific. The work that we conducted included characterization of Conus diets through examination of DNA sequences obtained from snail feces and characterization of Conus venoms through analyses of venom duct mRNA sequences. Fieldwork at American Samoa and Hawaii took place during 2009 and work at American Samoa occurred in 2010. See Publications for recent papers on these themes.
A study of ecological release was supported from funds from the National Geographic
Committee on Research and Exploration.
Conus miliaris is essentially the only Conus to occur at Easter Island. Based on Alan J. Kohn's work on this species, the population at Easter Island exhibits a much greater dietary breadth than do populations of this species elsewhere. We examined the diets of individual snails at Easter Island to show that the greater dietary breadth is inherent within all individuals of this population and that individuals do not exhibit individual-level resource specialization. We also compared venoms of individuals from the Easter Island population to those of individuals from elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific to demonstrate that wider diets are associated with changes in venom compositions. See Publications for recent papers on the Easter Island studies.