Michael                        Alfaro

Michael Alfaro


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
EE BIOL C177 | EE BIOL C234 - Practical Computing for Evolutionary Biologists and Ecologists


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. How can we explain the uneven patterns of species richness and morphological diversity across the Tree of Life? Where is macroevolutionary theory adequate to explain diversity patterns and where must new models and methods be developed? Does morphological diversity always signal mechanical, functional, or ecological diversity? To address these questions, I work on two main systems: coral reef fishes and neotropical primates. My research approach is interdisciplinary and quantitative and crosses traditional boundaries among molecular phylogenetics, evolutionary morphology, and theoretical evolution. I construct evolutionary trees using phylogenomic approaches, test evolutionary hypotheses using phylogenetic statis- tical methods; use models of trait evolution to explore form-function dynamics identify and quantify organismal diversity using morphological and functional morphological techniques

Selected Publications

Pennell, M.W., Eastman, J.M., Slater, G.J., Brown, J.W., Uyeda, J.C., Fitzjohn, R.G., Alfaro, M.E., Harmon, L.J., "geiger v2.0: an expanded suite of methods for fit- ting macroevolutionary models to phylogenetic trees", Bioinformatics, 30 : 2216-2218 (2014) .

Sorenson, L., Santini, F., Alfaro, M.E., "The effect of habitat on modern shark diversification", Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27 : 1536-1548 (2014) .

Frederich, B., Olivier, D., Litsios, G., Alfaro, M.E., Parmentier, E., "Trait de-coupling promotes evolutionary diversification of the trophic and acoustic system of damselfishes", Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281 : 1471- (2014) .

Santana, S Lynch Alfaro, J Noonan, A Alfaro, ME, "Adaptive response to sociality and ecology drives the diversification of facial colour patterns in catarrhines", Nature Communications, 4 : - (2013) [link].

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) .