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Research in the lab is wide-ranging, and covers several diverse topics using a range of animal taxa as study organisms. Common themes are the interface between function and behavior, and how organisms use performance to acquire fitness. We use integrative approaches that combine methods from fields such as behavioral ecology, functional morphology, physiology and quantitative genetics (amongst others).



Performance, life-history, and selection

A major line of inquiry is aimed placing whole-organism performance squarely within a life-history/quantitative genetic context and testing for trade-offs among performance and life-history traits associated with fitness and genetic quality. We are interested in the factors that shape performance expression, and in how performance is linked to fitness through its influence on survival via natural selection or through its connection to male weapons and ornaments that are the targets of sexual selection. A new research program (in collaboration with Jerry Husak at the University of St Thomas) involves using exercise training in Anolis carolinensis to prompt resource allocation trade-offs, with the aim of understanding the metabolic pathways underlying performance expression within the context of the integrated organismal phenotype. We are also testing how investment in performance affects survival and fitness in nature.

Exercise-induced life-history trade-offs

Sexual dimorphism, sexual conflict, and aging

The evolution of sex-differences between males and females has received relatively little attention outside of the context of reproduction. We study sexual dimorphism in whole-organism performance and associated morphological traits to better understand male and female ecology and life-histories from a functional perspective. In addition to testing for sex-specific patterns of both genetic and phenotypic performance trade-offs and how they might be driven by intralocus sexual conflict, we are currently altering levels of performance through manipulation of biogenic amines with the aim of ascertaining how both male and female performance affects the outcomes of mating interactions. A related line of inquiry involves looking at the factors affecting sex-specific development and aging in insects. 

male and female T commodus
Female (left) and male (right) Teleogryllus commodus crickets

Lizard ecology and evolution

An additional area of ongoing research deals with lizard evolutionary and functional ecology, particularly that of Anolis lizards. Studies include the effects of invasive Anolis sagrei lizards on the behavior of native Anolis carolinensis in southern Louisiana, and a long-term investigation of territory stability and inheritance in green anoles.  An ongoing, long-term project is aimed at estimating the genetic (co)variance underlying various performance and morphological traits in an urban population of Anolis carolinensis lizards using the quantitative genetic animal model, and at measuring the influence of relatedness on population demography.  Finally, a new area of research involves testing the influence of nongenetic inheritance and phenotypic plasticity on lizard performance. 

Measuring A. pulchellus bite force
Measuring jumping in A. carolinensisAnolis pulchellus
Measuring bite forceMeasuring jump performanceAnolis krugi, Puerto Rico

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