The colonisation of new habitats is an important component of the evolution of new species, yet we have very little data on what prompts organisms to invade novel environments. This research focuses on one of the most important ecological transitions in the history of life: the colonisation of land by fish. Several species of fish within the blenny family have made a nearly complete transition to land on various Pacific and Indian Ocean islands. Studying these fish as contemporary exemplars of a land invasion, this research integrates field experiments and phylogenetics to answer: 1. what drives fish to make the transition to land; and 2. was the invasion of land a highly unusual event? This research will help reveal how the initial land invasion unfolded in the late Devonian and what causes animals to colonise novel habitats more generally.
Investigators: Dr Terry Ord, Dr Gina Cooke, Courtney Morgans and Richard Platt.