Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology
We use a combination of field and laboratory techniques to better understand the novel adaptations of living organisms and the evolutionary pressures that have lead to the vast diversity of life on earth. Some work in this area involves the use of easily manipulated model systems to tease out important ecological interactions, such as predator-prey dynamics, and how these selective pressures lead to larger scale evolutionary processes.
Furthermore, we are also using innovative techniques to examine the mechanisms of evolution of unique adaptations of organisms, including social insects and Antarctic white-blooded fishes. Whether these novel adaptations arose via the pressures of extreme habitats, pathogens, parasites, predation risk, or other selective processes, these model species give us insight into the diverse ways evolution appears to “solve” imminent threats. Such insights can predict and help prepare for potential selective pressures of an ever-changing world.