CONTACT INFO
Cong Liu
Naomi Pierce Lab
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138
Email: congliu@g.harvard.edu
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© Cong Liu 2019

RESEARCH

Ant Biodiversity in Tropical China

​​The tropical region of South East Asia hosts some of the most diverse ecosystems and has been considered as one of the biodiversity hotspots on the planet. However, the expansion of agricultural activities is driving an increasing loss of forest and is likely to have serious impacts on biodiversity in this region. By investigating the ant diversity in tropical China (Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province), I am trying to understand the consequences of human agricultural activities on biodiversity in tropical China.

Projects:

  • Ant diversity inventory in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China. (Ants in Xishuangbanna)

  • How do human agricultural activities affect leaf litter ant diversity in Xishuangbanna?

  • The underlying eco-evolutionary processes that shape canopy ant community in Xishuangbanna.

 

Ant Biodiversity in the Hengduan Mountains

The Hengduan Mountain region, located in the southeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is one of the 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world. The unique landscape, geomorphology, microhabitat differentiation and geographic isolation created by tectonic uplift over the last 8 million years has promoted an astonishing diversification in many groups of organisms, making this region one of the most diverse temperate regions in the northern hemisphere. However, our understanding of ant diversity in the Hengduan Mountains is extremely fragmented and poorly understood. 

In this project, I will uncover the presence of additional species and improving the taxonomic resolution of the ant fauna in Hengduan Mountains by doing much more extensive ant biodiversity inventory in China’s Hengduan Mountain region.

 

Ecological Genomics of Ants in the Pacific

Biologists have long sought to understand the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of island community assembly, and the study of remote island biotas has been particularly informative for generating and testing theoretical frameworks. While reconstructing the dynamics of colonization and post-colonization eco-evolutionary changes have long been a challenge, emerging next-generation technologies for molecular analysis offer new data streams that can be brought to bear on the problem. Here we are developing a “community genomic” approach by generating population genomic data across all ant species in Fiji for a better understanding of the eco-evolutionary dynamics of ants in the Fiji archipelago.

Datasets:

  • Fijian ants: 188 species, 43 genera (68% endemic)

  • Ecological data: 9300 records.

  • NGS data: RADseq for 8000 specimens.

 

Butterfly Diversity Monitoring in SW China

Human-induced habitat conversion and degradation together with the accelerating climatic change is causing global biodiversity loss. Yet, how local ecological assemblages response to the interplay of climate and land-use change is still poorly understood. Butterflies are famous being considered as good bio-indicator of environmental changes due to their high species richness, their well-known taxonomy and ecology, in addition to their short generation, good mobility and specific habitat preferences. Furthermore, butterflies also have an important ecosystem function as pollinators of many plant species, which makes them more valuable from the conservation perspective.

 

In this project, we examine the interacting effects of climate and land use on butterfly diversity by conducting long-term butterfly diversity monitoring along a gradient of human disturbance in multiple ecosystems (e.g., tropical rainforest, tropical savannas, mountainous system) in Southwest China.