I am interested in pelagic evolution. We've studied evolutionary processes in terrestrial and nearshore environments but very little in the deep sea or open ocean. By tracing the evolutionary history of invertebrate groups that contain pelagic (living in the water column instead of on the sea floor) species, I can ask questions about how features associated with pelagic habit have evolved. I consider functional morphology, behavior, and ecology when examining the evolution of a group. I am particularly interested in features associated with maintaining position in the water column, locomotion, and feeding because these are essential to survival in this habitat.
Submersibles and molecular genetic tools allow us to ask questions we have not historically been able to address. Submersibles allow discovery of delicate animals, observations of them in situ, collection of live specimens, and recording of detailed oceanographic and ecological information. Molecular genetics allows resolution of historical relationships for pelagic animals, which seldom resemble their closest relatives.
My research currently concentrates on the evolution of groups such as:
Osborn, K.J., S.H.D. Haddock, F. Pleijel, L.P. Madin, and G.W. Rouse. 2009. Deep-sea, swimming worms with luminescent "bombs". Science. 325(5943): 964.
Osborn, K.J. 2009. Relationships within the Munnopsidae (Crustacea, Isopoda, Asellota) based on three genes. Zoologica Scripta. early online DOI: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.2009.00394.x
Osborn, K.J. and G.W. Rouse. 2008. Multiple orignis of pelagicism within Flabelligeridae (Annelida). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 49: 386-392.
Osborn, K.J., G.W. Rouse, S.K. Goffredi, and B.H. Robison. 2007. Description and relationships of an unusual pelagic polychaete Chaetopterus pugapocinus (Annelida, Chaetopteridae). The Biological Bulletin. 212: 40-54.
Collins, A.G., B. Bentlage, G.I. Matsumoto, S.H.D. Haddock, K.J. Osborn, and B. Schierwater. 2006. Solution to the phylogenetic enigma of Tetraplatia, a worm-shaped cnidarian. Biology Letters. 2: 120-124.