Marine invertebrate species as a group display an incredibly broad range of reproductive modes and mating systems. In addition to having ecological importance, variation in these life factors can have long-term evolutionary consequences. Research in my laboratory is concerned primarily with the consequences of differing larval forms (brooded vs. pelagic, planktotrophic vs. lecithotrophic) on molecular and organismal evolution in sea stars and other marine invertebrates. The questions addressed concern rates and patterns of sequence evolution for both nuclear and organelle genes, amounts of geographic variation in morphological and molecular traits, patterns of lineage splitting and extinction, and occurrence of cryptic speciation and hybridization.
Other recent and ongoing projects in my laboratory involve molecular phylogenetics of sea stars using mitochondrial and nuclear sequences (in collaboration with Dr. Christopher L. Mah at the Smithsonian Institution), analysis of pollution tolerance in a cryptic species complex of harpacticoid copepods, and phylogeographic studies in various marine and freshwater molluscs and crustaceans.
Mah, C. L. and D. W. Foltz. 2011. Molecular phylogeny of the Forcipulatacea (Asteroidea: Echinodermata): Systematics & biogeography. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 162: 646-660.
Mah, C. L. and D. W. Foltz. 2011. Molecular phylogeny of the Valvatacea. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 161:7 69-788.
Foltz, D. W. and C. L. Mah. 2010. Difference in larval type explains patterns of nonsynonymous substitutions in two ancient paralogs of the histone H3 gene in sea stars. Evol. Devel. 12: 222-230.
Foltz, D. W. and C. L. Mah. 2009. Recent relaxation of purifying selection on the tandem-repetitive early-stage histone H3 gene in brooding sea stars. Mar. Genomics 2: 113-118.
Foltz, D. W., A. T. Nguyen, J. R. Kiger and C. L. Mah. 2008. Pleistocene speciation of sister taxa in a north Pacific clade of brooding sea stars (Leptasterias). Mar. Biol. 154: 593-602.
Foltz, D. W. 2007 An ancient repeat sequence in the ATP synthase-β subunit gene of forcipulate sea stars. J. Mol. Evol. 65: 564-573.
Foltz, D. W., M. T. Bolton, S. P. Kelley, and A. T. Nguyen. 2007. Combined mitochondrial and nuclear sequences support the monophyly of forcipulatacean sea stars. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 43:627-634.