Expertise and Current Research Activity
The most abundant and diverse animals on land today are the insects, closely followed by their main predators: the spiders. The persistent struggle between insects and spiders began shortly after animals first emerged from the seas onto land some 400 million years ago, and has persisted through eons of drifting continents, evolving ecologies, and changing climates.
To understand the ecosystems of the past, it is necessary to know the biodiversity of their components. My main research field over the last few years has been in putting together the phylogenetic tree of spiders, especially from the poorly known Mesozoic Era. The results so far have shown many modern lineages extending back for millions of years, as well as quite remarkable shifts in geographic ranges over time. In addition, my team continues to explore the fossil histories of other, related arthropods, and the earliest life on land. In the last year I received the prestigious lifetime achievement Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Foundation of Germany.
Ph.D., University of Cambridge, Darwin College
B.Sc. (Hons), Geology and Zoology, class 2(i), University of Manchester