Research: M.K. Gonder

Katy with chimpThe rainforests of the Gulf of Guinea and Congo Basin are one of the most important centers of biological diversity in the world, harboring roughly 20% of all known species of plants and animals. Research in the Gonder Laboratory is focused on examining the history of this biologically-rich region with the specific goals of: (1) understanding spatial patterns of biodiversity across the region; (2) inferring the underlying evolutionary and ecological processes that generate the rich biodiversity of the region; and (3) helping to inform conservation strategies for the region that recognize and integrate evolutionary pattern and process. As a consequence, the research program is integrative and incorporates data from diverse fields, including population genetics, phylogeography, Geographic Information Systems, and behavioral ecology. The research includes both laboratory analysis in the U.S. that is complemented by fieldwork in central Africa, primarily in Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria. The research is also highly collaborative and occurs within a diverse, international network that includes academic researchers, conservation professionals and decision-makers in Africa. While the bulk of the research carried out by Gonder Lab members to date has emphasized inferring the genetic histories of chimpanzees and humans, the research is not taxon bound. We are currently pursing research in a range of tropical vertebrates, with the explicit aim of improving biodiversity prediction and conservation strategies in central Africa.