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We use molecular methods to understand evolutionary history, genome evolution and population structure of animals. Our work spans a variety of animal groups, from birds, to marine invertebrates and fishes. We use various approaches from bioinformatics and data science, in addition to evolutionary analyses, to analyze often large-scale molecular datasets.


Several of our projects aim to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships among animals. We use molecular data to study how species are related, date when lineages formed and test hypotheses of why they diversified. Our ongoing projects concern the phylogeny of birds and of fishes and we are particularly interested in dissecting reasons for phylogenetic conflict. 

Comparative Genomics

We perform comparisons among genomes to understand the molecular basis of different traits, such as special morphologies, or the effects of environmental changes on genomic structure. We currently work on a dataset of hundreds of genomes of syngnathiform fishes to better understand their genome evolution in addition to comparison of high-quality genomes of particular species of interest.

Population and Conservation Genomics

We use genetic data for individuals of the same species to understand the distribution of genetic diversity in relation to the landscape. This information can be useful to inform management of these populations. Much of our previous work has focused on the characterizing genetic diversity of the fantastic seadragons of Australia. We currently continue with a conservation genomic assessments seadragons using whole genomes in addition to characterizing genetic structuring of marine worms. 

Some examples of our work:

Evolutionary history and discordance in birds. Click to read Stiller et al. 2024 Nature

Comparative genomic analysis of 363 bird genomes. Click to read Feng, Stiller, Deng, Armstrong et al. 2020 in Nature.

Discovery of the ruby seadragon. Click to read Stiller et al. 2014 in Royal Society Open Science.

Phylogenetic relationships, biogeography and diversification of seahorses and pipefishes. Click to read Stiller et al. 2022 in BMC Biology.

Conservation genomics of common (weedy) seadragons. Click to read Stiller et al. 2023 in BMC Biology.

Phylogenetic placement of an extinct giant bird. Click to read Demarchi et al. 2022 in PNAS.

Genetic diversity of leafy seadragons in relation to the landscape. Click to read Stiller et al. 2021 in Molecular Ecology.

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