I am doing research in the interface between evolutionary and developmental biology. The goal of this type of research is to relate the proximate processes of embryonic development (or ontogeny) to the ultimate processes of evolution (or phylogeny), the rationale being that evolutionary changes in morphology can only originate through alterations of ontogeny. The link between the two processes holds a key for an understanding of morphological evolution. This is being realised by both developmental and evolutionary biologists, and is leading to an integration of developmental and evolutionary research programs. As a result, a new discipline, evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo-devo”, has been created. This “new “ field is of course a return to old classical questions like:
- How do evolutionary innovations on a large scale, as well as on smaller scales arise?
- How is variation, and thereby evolution, constrained by developmental processes and mechanisms?
- How can constraints be overcome?
- How do the processes and mechanisms of development evolve?
I also work on the history of zoology and evolutionary biology.