- Why are there so many species?
- Where did they come from?
- Why are they distributed in the ways that they are?
- How do they relate to and interact with one another?
Specifically, I am interested in applying genomic techniques to understand the population dynamics and phylogeography of fishes on mesophotic reefs in the tropical Pacific (coral reefs at depths of 30-150m). These ecosystems are largely unexplored and new to science, yet they likely comprise the majority of coral reef habitat. Mesophotic reefs may serve as refugia on both contemporary and evolutionary timescales. In the present, they provide reef habitat that is largely unaffected by fishing and human disturbance and may act as reservoirs of biodiversity to replenish depleted shallow reefs. On an evolutionary timescale, mesophotic reefs provide habitat that is below the sea level changes associated with glaciation. Hence these communities may be older and more stable than shallow habitat. I hope to answer key questions concerning the dynamics of these systems: How dispersive are mesophotic reef fishes? Are deep reefs linked to one another or to shallow reefs? What is the relationship among taxa in terms of habitat use and specialization across depth gradients?