1001 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47401
Ricardo's research is on the role of modularity in constraining ecological diversification. Modularity is the partitioning of anatomical (or other) traits into correlated groups, each of which evolves as a unit independent of other modules. Body segments in insects are a classic example in which each segment is capable of differentiating from others in terms of wings, legs, antennae, or other structures. The degree of modularity constrains the range of possible evolutionary changes. If all traits are complely independent, any combination is possible, but if all traits are completely correlated far fewer combinations can be acheived.
Ricardo is investigating whether the degree of modularity in a clade is associated with its range of ecologiacal specialization. Since the niche of a species is related the sum total of its specializations (e.g., large arboreal carnivores vs. small subterranean herbivores), he hypothesizes that strong integration will constrain groups from realizing a wide range of niches. He is testing this hypothesis using two groups of mammalian carnivore, the Felidae (cats and their close relatives) and Mustelidae (weasels, otters, badgers, and relatives).
In addition to modularity, Ricardo's research also includes phylogeny of skinks from the Oligocene of South Australia and theropods from the Late Cretaceous of Antarctica.
Before coming to IU, Ricardo recived two bachelors degrees from Eastern Washington University in 2017.