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Melissa Whitaker

This is the webpage of Dr. Melissa Whitaker and her team of researchers. On this website, you will be able to find information regarding publications, students, teaching, and contact methods. 

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Research Interests

As a trophic ecologist, I study how and why insects eat what they eat. I do so by investigating the fascinating and diverse life histories of moths and butterflies, with particular interest in the large and trophically diverse family, Lycaenidae. With training in community ecology and evolutionary biology, I utilize diverse methods including DNA-based ‘omics approaches, field and laboratory experiments, and analytical chemistry.

Recent Publications

Valencia-Montoya, Quental, Tonini, Lamas, Talavera, Crall, Liénard, Salzman, Whitaker, Busby, Kawahara, Lohman, Robbins, Pierce. Evolutionary tradeoffs between male secondary sexual traits revealed by a phylogeny of the hyperdiverse tribe Eumaeini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288: 20202512.  

Liénard,  Bernard, Allena, Lassance, Song,  Childers, Yu, Dajia Yeb, Stephenson, Valencia-Montoya, Salzman, Whitaker, Calonje, Zhanga,  Pierce. 2021. The evolution of red colour vision is linked to coordinated rhodopsin tuning in lycaenid butterflies. PNAS 118(6): e2008986118.

Whitaker & Salzman. 2020. Ecology and evolution of cycad-feeding Lepidoptera. Ecology Letters 23: 1862-1877. 


East Tennessee State University 

Department of Biological Sciences

1276 Gilbreath Drive, JC TN 37614

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