David B. Wake

University of California, Berkeley


Election Year: 1998
Primary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

I study how lineages of organisms become diverse during their evolution, both with respect to patterns of species formation and lineage branching as well as to the biological attributes of organisms. Features that have special interest for me are feeding and locomotion systems, including developmental, comparative, and functional morphology and neuroethology. I focus special attention on amphibians, especially salamanders. The lungless salamanders, family Plethodontidae, have undergone an adaptive radiation that has led to the evolution of direct development and terrestriality. One lineage of plethodontids is the only group of salamanders to invade the tropics, and this group radiated adaptively so that it now accounts for about half the species of all salamanders. I have studied tropical diversification in detail, using molecular, genetic, and morphological approaches. Important components of my work involve analyses of geographic ecology and biogeography. In addition, I am increasingly involved in issues in biodiversity assessment and conservation biology, especially those related to the decline of amphibian populations, the extinction of species, and conservation strategies.

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