Michael                        Alfaro

Michael Alfaro

Associate Professor

email:   michaelalfaro@ucla.edu
office:   5217 LSB

Recent Courses

E&S SCI M216 | EE BIOL M200A - Evolutionary Biology
EE BIOL 194B - Research Group or Internship Seminars: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


B.A., Dramatic Arts, University of Calilfornia, Davis 1989
M.A., Biology, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 1995
PhD, Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago 2000

Research Interests

The central goal of my research program is to understand the factors that govern the evolutionary dynamics of organismal diversification. Why are some groups morphologically diverse? Are there general laws or themes that can be used to explain the uneven distribution of diversity in physiological traits across lineages? Does morphological diversity always signal mechanical, functional, or ecological diversity? To address these questions, I work largely on marine fishes. My research approach is interdisciplinary and quantitative and crosses traditional boundaries among evolutionary morphology, molecular phylogenetics, and theoretical evolution. I identify and quantify organismal diversity using morphological and functional morphological techniques; construct evolutionary trees and test evolutionary hypotheses using phylogenetic statisticatl methods; and use models of trait evolution to explore form-function dynamics.

Selected Publications

Frederich, B., L. Sorenson, F. Santini, G. J. Slater, and M. E. Alfaro, "Iterative ecological radiation and convergence during the evolutionary history of damselfishes", American Naturalist, 181 (1): - (2013) [link].

Santini, F, Sorenson, L, Marcroft, T, and ME Alfaro, "A multi-locus molecular phylogeny of Boxfishes (Aracanidae, Ostraciidae; Tetraodontiformes)", Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 66 (1): 153-160 (2013) [link].

Rabosky, D. L., G. J. Slater, and M. E. Alfaro, "Clade age and species richness are decoupled across the eukaryotic tree of life", PLoS Biol, 10 (8): e1001381- (2012) [link].

Slater, G. J., L. J. Harmon, and M. E. Alfaro, "Integrating fossils with molecular phylogenies improves inference of trait evolution", Evolution, 66 : 3931-3944 (2012) [link].

Santana, S.E., Lynch Alfaro, J., and M.E. Alfaro, "Adaptive evolution of facial color patterns in Neotropical primates", Proc Roy Sci, 279 : 2204-2211 (2012) [link].

Boubli, J. P., A. B. Rylands, I. P. Farias, M. E. Alfaro, and J. W. L. Alfaro, "Cebus phylogenetic relationships: a preliminary reassessment of the diversity of the untufted capuchin monkeys", Am J Primato, 74 : 381-393 (2012) .

Santana, S. E., Dial, T. O., Eiting, T. P. and M. E. Alfaro., "Roosting ecology and the evolution of pelage markings in bats", PLOS One, 6 (10): e25845- (2011) .

Slater, G. J., L. J. Harmon, D. Wegmann, P. Joyce, L. J. Revell, and M. E. Alfaro, "Using Approximate Bayesian Computation to fit models of continuous trait evolution to incompletely resolved phylogenetic trees", Evolution, 6 (10): - (2011) .

Lynch Alfaro, J. W., L. Matthews, A. H. Boyette, S. J. Macfarlan, K. A. Phillips, T. Falotico, E. Ottoni, M. Verderane, P. Izar, M. Schulte, A. Melin, L. Fedigan, C. Janson, and M. E. Alfaro, "Anointing variation across wild capuchin populations: a review of material preferences, bout frequency and anointing sociality in Cebus and Sapajus", Am J Primatol, 73 : 1-16 (2011) [link].

Waltzek, T. B., G. Marty, M. E. Alfaro, W. Bennet, M. Haulena, E. Weber, and R. P. Hedrick, "A systemic iridovirus from threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) represents a new megalocytivirus species in the family Iridoviridae", Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 73 : - (2011) .

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