My main research interests lie with the evolutionary history of a megadiverse clade, Lepidoptera. I am interested in when, where and how various clades diversified. I use mainly molecular systematic methods in my work and am beginning to use Next Gen sequencing technologies. I am particularly interested in developing laboratory protocols to utilize museum specimens in my work, as often many crucial taxa are very difficult to find and collect, while such taxa are well represented in museum collections that have been amassed over the past couple of centuries.
My group is beginning to elucidate the reasons behind the evolutionary success of Lepidoptera. It appears that the clade originated in the Cretaceous and that many groups diversified in conjunction with the diversification of angiospermous plants. One particularly interesting pattern we have uncovered is that it appears that most families of Lepidoptera have originated in the late Cretaceous, but have diversified very strongly after the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous. Simplified, it looks like the ancestors of what we call families today barely survived the mass extinction event (hypothesized to have been caused by a massive asteroid hitting the Earth) 65 million years ago. Those lineages which survived apparently discovered a wide variety of niches available leading to massive diversification in many lineages, such as Geometridae, Erebidae, and Pyralidae among others. These questions we continue to address in our research today.
I am originally from Finland, although I spent my childhood living in places like Nigeria, Sudan, Ghana, USA, Western Samoa and Papua New Guinea. I obtained my PhD at the University of Helsinki in 2000 on the evolutionary biology of checkerspot butterflies. I continued working on the evolutionary biology of butterflies during a 2 year postdoc with Sören Nylin at Stockholm University. During that time, my focus moved more and more towards the molecular phylogenetics of the butterfly family Nymphalidae and in 2002 I received a 4 year forskarassistent position from Vetenskapsrådet, which I carried out at Stockholm University. Following this, I was awarded an Academy Research Fellowship from the Academy of Finland for 2006-2011, which took place at the University of Turku, Finland. I expanded my research to look at the evolutionary history of Lepidoptera as a whole at this point. For 2011-2013 I was employed as a University Researcher at the University of Turku, and was promoted to Professor in Genetics in 2014. Starting in September 2015 I am Professor in Biological Systematics at Lund University.
Retrieved from Lund University's publications database
- 'Species' from two different butterfly genera combined into one : Description of a new genus of Euptychiina (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) with unusually variable wing pattern
- Molecular phylogeny and generic-level taxonomy of the widespread palaeotropical 'Heteropsis clade' (Nymphalidae : Satyrinae: Mycalesina)
- On oscillations and flutterings-A reply to Hamm and Fordyce
- PCR primers for 30 novel gene regions in the nuclear genomes of Lepidoptera
- Phylogenetic relationships of Acronictinae with discussion of the abdominal courtship brush in Noctuidae (Lepidoptera)
- Putting Parasemia in its phylogenetic place : A molecular analysis of the subtribe Arctiina (Lepidoptera)
- Systematics and origin of moths in the subfamily Arctiinae (Lepidoptera, Erebidae) in the Neotropical region
- Targeted inactivation of the mouse epididymal beta-defensin 41 alters sperm flagellar beat pattern and zona pellucida binding
- Ten genes and two topologies : An exploration of higher relationships in skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae)
- What you need is what you eat? Prey selection by the bat Myotis daubentonii.
- A new extant family of primitive moths from Kangaroo Island, Australia, and its significance for understanding early Lepidoptera evolution
- A new species of Niganda Moore 1879, from Thailand and description of variation in the male genitalia and female facies of N. radialis Moore (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae, Ceirinae)
- A new subspecies of Anthanassa (Nymphalidae: Nymphalinae: Melitaeini) from Southeastern Brazil
- Adaptive radiations in butterflies : Evolutionary history of the genus Erebia (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)
- Advances in Geometroidea phylogeny, with characterization of a new family based on Pseudobiston pinratanai (Lepidoptera, Glossata)
- Elusive ditrysian phylogeny: an account of combining systematized morphology with molecular data (Lepidoptera).
- Molecular phylogeny of Lymantriinae (Lepidoptera, Noctuoidea, Erebidae) inferred from eight gene regions
- Morphological variation between populations of the expanding ectoparasitic deer ked Lipoptena cervi (Diptera: Hippoboscidae) in Fennoscandia
- Multilocus species trees show the recent adaptive radiation of the mimetic heliconius butterflies
- Natural history and systematic position of Rhetus belphegor (n. comb.) (Lepidoptera: Riodinidae), an endangered butterfly with narrow distribution in Southeast Brazil
- Systematics and historical biogeography of the Old World butterfly subtribe Mycalesina (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)
- The butterfly plant arms-race escalated by gene and genome duplications