Dr. John Schenk
My research incorporates phylogenetically based approaches to discern the patterns and processes of biological diversification. Although much of my work has focused on plant diversity (in, e.g., Synthyris, Podostemaceae, Cornales, and especially Mentzelia), my postdoctoral work extends my interests to understanding the processes of diversification in the muroid rodent group (Rodentia: Muroidea; e.g., mice, rats, hamsters, lemmings, gerbils, sigmodontines). This group is remarkably diverse in morphology, habitat use, and species richness, constituting approximately 28% of all mammalian species diversity. I am conducting this research in Scott Steppan’s lab, where our main objective is to elucidate the evolutionary processes that have led to the disproportionate diversity in the muroid clade. To address this and related issues, we use statistical phylogenetic approaches to examine putative evolutionary processes that have led to its diversity, such as ecological opportunity and key innovations.