Our main study organism is the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella, a classic example of sympatric speciation in action. These flies attract the attention of evolutionary biologists because they appear to speciate sympatrically by shifting and adapting to new host plants. Recently, the species R. pomonella shifted from its native host hawthorn,Crataegus spp, to introduced, domestic apples, Malus pumila. This shift, which occurred approximately 150 years ago in the northeastern United States, provides a unique historical context in which to examine the relationship between host specialization and speciation in action, in real time, in our own backyards.
Find more information on sympatric speciation as seen in the R. pomonella study system.