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Associate Professor of Marine Biology
An organism's potential to adapt to a novel environment depends in part upon its history of evolving features requisite in previous environs. Replicate radiations of organisms into a given ecosystem, say - coral reefs, permit one to test such questions as: How has the history of organisms prior to their expansion in the tropics constrained or facilitated their diversification onto reefs? How has the evolution of ecological innovation influenced the tropics as a source or sink for global diversity? We address these questions using comparative phylogenetic methods. Using supertree techniques, we have recently produced the most comprehensive phylogeny of scleractinian corals and the first class-level phylogeny of Holothuroidea, the sea cucumbers, from nucleotide sequences, morphological characters and fossil first occurrances. Using these estimates and comparative methods, we are testing hypotheses with a previously unavailable statistical power about how invertebrates have diversified into and out of a derived environment, scleractinian coral reefs.
A more recent applied project has been to test the effectiveness of intact coastal ecosystems in ameliorating damage from tsunami.
Taylor, B. M., J. L. McIlwain and A. M. Kerr. 2012. Marine reserves and reproductive biomass: A case study of a heavily targeted reef fish. Public Library of Science One 7: e39599.
Kerr, A. M., A. H. Baird and T. P. Hughes. 2011. Correlated evolution of sex and reproductive mode in corals (Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences 278: 75-81.
Feagin, R. A., N. Mukherjee, K. Shanker, A. H. Baird, J. Cinner, A. M. Kerr, N. Koedam, A. Sridhar, R. Arthur, L. P. Jayatissa, D. Lo Seen, M. Menon, S. Rodriguez, M. Shamsuddoha and F. Dahdouh-Guebas. 2010. Shelter from the storm? Use and misuse of coastal vegetation bioshields for managing natural disasters. Conservation Letters 3: 1-11.
Raymundo, L. J., A. R. Halford, A. P. Maypa and A. M. Kerr. 2009. Functionally diverse reef-fish communities ameliorate coral disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 106: 17067-17070.
Konow, N., D. R. Bellwood, P. C. Wainright and A. M. Kerr. 2008. Novel jaw joints promote trophic diversity in coral reef fishes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 93: 545-555.
Kerr, A. M. and A. H. Baird. 2007. Natural barriers to natural disasters. BioScience 57: 102-103.
Kerr, A. M. 2005. Molecular and morphological supertree of stony corals (Anthozoa: Scleractinia) using matrix representation parsimony. Biological Reviews 80: 543-558.
Kerr, A.M., D. Janies, R. M. Clouse, Y. Samyn, J. Kuszak and J. Kim. 2005. Molecular phylogeny of coral-reef sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea: Aspidochirotida) based on 16S mt rDNA sequence. Marine Biotechnology 7: 53-60.
Connell, J. H., T. P. Hughes, C. C. Wallace, J. E. Tanner, K. E. Harms and A. M. Kerr. 2004. A 35-year study of competition, species composition and diversity of corals. Ecological Monographs 74: 179-210.
Dr. Alexander M. Kerr
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