A major goal of evolutionary biology is to understand the process of speciation. Of particular interest is evaluating the role of natural selection in causing diverging populations to become species. Addressing these goals entails investigating fundamental questions of evolutionary biology such as: What is the genetic basis of adaptations? What is the role of migration and genetic drift during the evolution of traits? What is the strength of selection acting on an adaptive allele? And what is the mechanism underlying selection? My work incorporates molecular biology, population genetic analyses, and field-based selection experiments to address these questions. My research examines speciation in plants, predominantly focused on reinforcement, the process in which reduced hybrid fitness generates selection for the evolution of reproductive isolation between emerging species. I use an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates functional molecular biology experiments, population genetic analyses, pollinator behavior trials, and field reciprocal transplant experiments.
Hopkins, Robin, Mark D. Rausher. (In Press).The cost of reinforcement: Selection on flower color in allopatric populations of Phlox drummondii. The American Naturalist.
Hopkins, Robin. (2013). Reinforcement in plants. New Phytologist. 197: 1095-1103. (Winner of the 2013 Tansley Medal)
Hopkins, Robin, Mark D. Rausher. (2012). Pollinator-mediated selection on flower color allele drives reinforcement. Science 335: 1090-1092. (Featured in Current Biology Dispatch by John Pannell)
Hopkins, Robin, Donald A. Levin, Mark D. Rausher. (2012). Molecular signatures of selection on reproductive character displacement of flower color in Phlox drummondii. Evolution 66:469-485.
Hopkins, Robin, Mark D. Rausher. (2011). Identification of two genes causing reinforcement in the Texas wildflower Phlox drummondii. Nature 469:411-414.
The Arnold Arboretum
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Faculty Support: Jess Gard