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D. Luke Mahler

Associate Professor

BSc, University of Chicago
PhD, Harvard

Lab Phone
ESC 2042


I seek to understand how ecological and evolutionary factors combine to generate biodiversity over large spatial and temporal scales. Despite recent progress in the study of adaptive radiation, we still do not understand how local ecological conditions, which can change over very short periods of time, contribute to long-lasting patterns of macroevolutionary diversity. My research addresses this question through multidisciplinary research on a natural macroevolutionary experiment: repeated adaptive radiations of neotropical anole lizards in island and mainland habitats. Using this system, my work combines field ecology, phylogenetics, morphometrics, and statistical modeling to answer questions such as: Does the rate of evolution vary as a function of interspecific competition? Is the outcome of adaptive radiation in similar environments deterministic, or contingent on history and chance events? Is local ecology or biogeographic heterogeneity more important for the generation of adaptive diversity? In addition, I am interested in how human activities are changing the processes that generate and maintain large-scale biodiversity patterns. This work focuses on the introduction of non-native anole species to new islands in the Caribbean and seeks to identify the relative roles of natural factors (such as island area and isolation) versus anthropogenic ones (such as economic connectedness) in determining present-day and future patterns of species diversity.

See my webpage ( for publications and additional information about my research.