Dr. López-Fernández is an Associate Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Associate Curator, Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan. He is interested in the evolutionary processes that originate “mega-diverse” biotic assemblages and the role of ecology in shaping the evolution of diversity. His lab studies the diversity, evolutionary history and conservation of fishes, particularly those from the Neotropical region of South and Central America.
Through fieldwork and collections studies he combines systematics, comparative morphology, and ecology, focusing on five goals:
(1) describing the diversity and inferring the evolutionary relationships among genera and species of Neotropical cichlids and other fishes,
(2) analyzing timing, rates and patterns of lineage and phenotypic diversification,
(3) describing correlations between ecology and morphology in a phylogenetic framework, leading to development and testing of adaptive hypotheses,
(4) analyzing patterns of ecological assembly to elucidate the effect of evolutionary history and adaptation on species interactions, and
(5) determining the human impacts on Neotropical fishes and promoting their conservation.