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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. 

Contact

Biocommunication Research Group

ETH Entomological Collection

Building LFO, Schmelzbergstrasse 9

8092 Zürich, Switzerland

mrl.whitaker@gmail.com

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