Current research projects
Modularity describes the degree of independence between organismal traits, whereas integration describes the strength of covariation. Our research investigates the strength of these properties in a variety of systems, including the skull, mandible, limbs and vertebrae, using geometric morphometrics, CT scanning and laser surface scanning. We then use comparative methods to study how these features have changed through time and influenced macroevolutionary trends.
Phylogenetic Comparative Methods
A key component of our research is the development and application of phylogenetic comparative methods- a key component of understanding evolutionary morphology in a historical context. Our work in this area has included developing a new method for evaluating the strength of phenotypic covariance using phylogenies, as well as a project using simulated phylogenies and phenotypes to understand how trait covariance shapes evolvability and evolutionary rates.
In order to fully understand the underlying mechanisms that drive the evolution of morphological variation and modularity, it is important to investigate the genetic and developmental processes that govern morphogenesis. We am using evo-devo techniques to study how vertebral fusion is regulated in the chick embryo and how avian vertebral features such as the synsacrum and pygostyle evolved.
Find R code from Felice lab projects, including software resources for high-dimensional geometric morphometrics, at https://github.com/rnfelice/
Ryan N. Felice, Group Leader
Ryan is an evolutionary biologist with a focus on using phylogentic comparate methods to understand the macroevolution of the vertebrate skeleton. He is particularly interested in geometric morphometrics, Bayesian evolutionary modelling, and understanding how trait covariation (e.g., modularity and integration) influences macroevolutionary tempo and mode.
Ryan D. Marek, Postdoctoral Rsearcher
Ryan has been investigating regionalisation of the avian cervical column since his PhD in 2015. He is currently researching the evolution of regionalisation and modularity in the neck of theropod dinosaurs and birds. Ryan shares a general passion for palaeontology, anatomy and biomechanics, and has previously published on ichthyosaur neurobiology and pliosaur dental ontogeny. Outside of work, Ryan can be found at gigs, craft beer bars or reading at home.
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