Sevan Suni


Sevan Suni

Post-doctoral Fellow, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Fellow of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131
Phone: 617.384.5631
Fax: 617.384.6596


PhD Biology (2009) Stanford University
BA Biology (2004) Colorado College

Research Interests

An important challenge for evolutionary biologists is to understand the processes that influence the geographic distribution of genetic variation, and the consequences of genetic structure for evolutionary trajectories and conservation status. I have conducted several studies to address these issues, each building on my dissertation research, which focused on dispersal processes in harvester ant populations. I am particularly interested in how human dominated systems affect local biodiversity by acting as a barrier to dispersal. As an NIH PERT postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona I investigated how habitat fragmentation influences dispersal and levels of genetic diversity for species in an ecologically important clade of tropical bees, and I found strong differences among species in their levels of gene flow over fragmented areas.

As the Darwin postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst I investigated how landscape features and phenology influence patterns of gene flow in montane plant populations, and found that incorporating phenology into analyses of genetic structure can better explain the distribution of genetic variation. While at the University of Massachusetts, I also began a collaboration with researchers in the Department of Environmental Conservation that focuses on conservation genetics of native bumble bees, specifically focusing on the genetic consequences of commercial bees for native bees.

My current research in the Hopkins lab focuses on understanding the ecological and population genetic factors, and underlying genetic mechanisms that lead to the formation of new species. I am characterizing the costs of hybridization among populations in a Phlox species complex, will determine rates of hybridization in the field, and will conduct experiments with pollinators to understand the ecological factors that may lead to reproductive isolation.


  • Suni, SS, Bronstein, J, Brosi, BJ (2014) Conservation genetics of the orchid bee Euglossa championi: analysis of spatio-temporal genetic structure reveals high dispersal over a fragmented area. Biotropica 24: 202-209.
  • Suni, SS, and Brosi, BJ (2012) Population genetics of orchid bees in a fragmented tropical landscape. Conservation Genetics 13: 323-332.
  • Suni, SS, and Eldakar, OT (2011) High mating frequency and variation with lineage ratio in dependent-lineage harvester ants. Insectes Sociaux 58: 357 – 364.
  • Souza, RO, Del Lama, MA, Cervini, M, Mortari, N, Eltz, T, Zimmermann, Y, Bach, C, Brosi, BJ, Suni, SS, Quezada-Euán, JG, and Paxton RJ (2010) Conservation genetics of neotropical pollinators revisited: microsatellite analysis suggests that diploid males are rare in orchid bees. Evolution 64: 3318-26.
  • Suni, SS, and Gordon, DM (2010) Fine-scale genetic structure and dispersal distance in the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus. Heredity 104: 168-173.
  • Schwander, TS, Cahan, SH, Suni, SS, and Keller, L (2008) Mechanisms of reproductive isolation between an ant species of hybrid origin and its parents. Evolution 62: 1635-1643.
  • Suni, SS, Gignoux, C, and Gordon, DM (2007) Male parentage in dependent-lineage populations of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus, Molecular Ecology 16: 5149-5155.