Peckoltia pankimpuju (Lujan & Chamon 2008)
Pongo de Manseriche, Marañon River, Peru
Nathan K. Lujan, PhD
Gerstner Scholar, American Museum of Natural History
I am a taxonomist and evolutionary biologist interested in the diversity, interrelationships, and ecological interactions among fishes, with a particular focus on fishes from tropical rivers. Earth's freshwater ecosystems contain less than 1% of the planet's water but over 40% of its aquatic biodiversity, and freshwater species face extinction at rates several times higher than those of terrestrial or marine taxa. Still, thousands of freshwater species remain unrecognized by science. My research strives to discover and describe new species, understand how species feed and interact, and place species in the ever expanding tree of life, which is necessary to understand both the evolutionary processes that generate biodiversity and the ecological processes that sustain this diversity. I utilize various methods, from stable isotope analyses for inferring diets, to µCT technology for visualizing 3D skeletal anatomy, to genomic analyses for inferring population structure, gene-flow, and phylogenetic relationships. Specimens are the bedrock of my research and I help to build natural history collections with whole specimens, tissues, and photographs obtained via international collaborations and expeditionary field work in remote, poorly studied rivers throughout tropical South America.
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West and 79th St.
New York, NY 10024