Study systems

We primarily work on stick insects in the genus Timema. These insects are distributed across southwestern USA, primarily in California. We do also work on other systems, and for information on these click HERE.

Early and ongoing work focused on two ecotypes of the species T. cristinae (depicted below, illustration credit: Rosa Ribas). These ecotypes are differentially adapted to the host plants upon which they live, for example in morphological traits related to camouflage. Partial reproductive isolation has also evolved as a consequence of divergent host plant adaptation (e.g., ‘ecological speciation’).

A picture is worth a thousand words: find the cryptic stick insect in the photo (credit: Moritz Muschick).

But beyond T. cristinae, the genus exhibits a wide range of phenotypic variation, as well as variation in the host plant and climatic environments occupied (illustration and photo credits as above).

Phenotypic variation.

Some host plants used in California.

Some of the climates occupied by Timema.

And some illustrations of the multiple species (credit: Rosa Ribas).