Martin P. Schilling, PhD

Room 517
T +43 (0)512 507-51774

I am broadly interested in the creation and maintenance of genetic diversity in natural populations, and therefore more generally, in the diversity of life. I have been working on speciation and local adaptation and the ways these processes can shape organismal diversity in natural systems, including plants and animals.

Further, I am interested in statistical and computational ways to obtain, analyze and visualize large-scale data from high-throughput sequencing efforts. Lastly, I enjoy teaching graduate students and I serve as an advisor and tutor for bioinformatics-related work in the Molecular Ecology Group within the Department of Ecology.

I finished my PhD in 2016 at Utah State University, where I worked on the population genetics of the plant genus Boechera. The whole genus consists of about 110 species, where many have the ability to hybridize with each other. This makes the morphological identification nearly impossible, and I worked on expanding the genomic resources for understanding patterns of hybridization and admixture in a subgroup therein, the Boechera puberula complex, which is distributed in the Intermountain West of the United States.

After finishing my PhD, I did a postdoc in the Sam Flaxman lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where I worked on theoretical aspects of speciation under gene flow. We used forward-time simulations to explore how reproductive isolation can be created on a genome-wide scale under divergent selection and gene flow. We used a group of three Heliconius butterfly taxa in Costa Rica to explore whether we can pick up similar signatures in empirical data. I have further been working with Sean Mullen (Boston University), where we are trying to expand these explorations to the North American radiation of Limenitis butterflies.

I have been in the Molecular Ecology Group here at the University of Innsbruck since January 2019, where I am working on the ant species Tetramorium alpestre. Here, we are trying to disentangle the molecular and chemical cues for the recognition of nest mates and aggressiveness towards non-nest mates in monogynous and polygynous nests and supercolonies in the Alps.

Research topics
Alpine endemism
Ecological speciation
Experimental evolution
Genome and transcriptome biology
Life history
Population genetics and genomics
(Sexual) behaviour
Social organisation
Speciation and gene flow

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