I am particularly interested in the population biology, ecology, conservation, phenotypic plasticity, and evolutionary biology of Lepidoptera. For my Master's research, I was fortunate to study the ecology and behavior of the endangered Homerus Swallowtail in the Cockpit Country of Jamaica. In particular, I used mark-release-recapture methods to estimate the population size and studied the conspecific male territorial behavior. I hope that a breeding program will soon become established to replenish wild numbers.
For my doctoral research, I studied two subspecies of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in the southeastern USA. I was interested in determining the evolutionary relationship of the butterflies, therefore I employed a multidisciplinary approach that encompassed the ecology (oviposition preference and larval survival), morphology (wing morphometrics and color), and genetics (intraspecific hybridizing, hybrid viability and fertility) of these butterflies. The results suggested a correlation of these butterflies evolutionary biology to suture zone theory.
I am currently investigating the correlation of structure and function of the lepidopteran proboscis. A biomimetic project, this research is part of a large collaboration with material science, chemical, and electrical engineers. We intend to use the lepidopteran proboscis to develop a novel microfluidic device applicable to medical sciences, and cell and molecular research. I use scanning electron microscopy (SEM), amongst other tools, to study the landscape of the lepidopteran proboscis on species that exhibit different feeding preferences.
LEHNERT, M.S. 2010. New protocol for measuring Lepidoptera wing damage. The Journal of the Lepidopterist's Society. 64:29-32.
LEHNERT, M.S. 2008. The population biology and ecology of the Homerus swallowtail, Papilio (Pterourus) homerus, in the Cockpit Country, Jamaica. Journal of Insect Conservation. 12:179-188.