Maxi Polihronakis

Doctoral Student

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

University of Connecticut


Research Interests: Coleoptera, Molecular Systematics, Sexual Selection, Speciation



Maxi CollectingCurrent Research

I work on a group of scarab beetles commonly known as May beetles in the genus Phyllophaga. These beetles are large, brownish in color, and are often seen flying around convenient store signs and porch lights at night. As part of my dissertation research, I am collecting mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data to infer relationships among species in the subgenus Phyllophaga endemic to the east coast of the United States. However, the primary focus of my molecular work is to discern relationships among the historically problematic species of the fraterna complex, a group of 25-30 species found throughout the eastern half of the United States. The species in this group are very difficult to identify using external morphological characters and are thus distinguished by species specific male and female genitalia. However, these characters are not always suitable for diagnosing species boundaries and relationships. I am interested in using the molecular phylogeny to model the evolution of male and female genitalia to test various hypotheses to infer the evolutionary history of the genitalic characters. The final portion of my dissertation focuses on a widespread and abundant member of the fraterna group, P. hirticula. I am using mtDNA and microsatellite markers to analyze the phylogeographic structure of this species and assess paternity of female egg clutes. The ultimate goal of my research is to determine the role of post-copulatory sexual selection on the speciation patterns of beetles within this genus.



Polihronakis, M.  2006. Morphometric Analysis of Intraspecific Shape Variation in Male and Female Genitalia of Phyllophaga hirticula (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Melolonthinae).  Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 99(1): 144-150. Link to PDF

Polihronakis, M. 2007. New species of Phyllophaga Harris (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) from the North Carolina Cape Fear River Basin. The Coleopterists Bulletin 61(3): 429-433.


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© 2007 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Connecticut.
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Maxi Polihronakis

Last modified: 16 February 2007