Lizard display evolution - We study the mechanisms underlying the evolution of complex and multimodal communicative signals. Why are there so many kinds of lizard displays? Why are there so many kinds of lizard displays? Why use both visual and chemical signals? Why does signal composition vary across individuals and species? Currently, our research emphasizes physiological explanations including sex, population, and inter-eye variation in visual ability, and exploring the impacts of hormones, immune function and chemical environment on display use and composition. We also investigate the influence of competitor signals on territorial displays and movement. We're using field studies, playbacks with conspecific signals and a robotic lizard, chemical analysis of pheromones, behavioral tests of visual sensitivity and hormone assays to understand the long-term evolution of visual and chemical displays of Sceloporus lizards in Mexico and the United States. This work is and has been supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1050274 and 0236049

Zebrafish behavioral genetics - We are studying the evolution of behavioral syndromes and other relationships among complex traits by measuring the diversification of behavior and morphology across wild populations of zebrafish from India. For example, we are studying the relationships between aggression and boldness, and between sociality and learning, focusing on the genetic and environmental mechanisms that lead to evolutionary shifts in the relationships over time. We've also been collaborating with high school teachers to bring these studies into the classroom. This work is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1257562 and 0543491

Statistical method and software development

  • We continue to develop phylogenetic methods for inferring microevolutionary processes from comparative (interspecific) data. Early efforts are implemented in COMPARE( Most recently, we have been working on methods for studying the evolution of complex traits (e.g., syndromes) and within-species variation (e.g., sexual dimorphism). This work is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 0196357 and 0543491
  • We are developing statistical methods and software for analyzing social groups, applying social network statistics to animal behavior data. (SocANet)
  • We developed the initial stages of EthoBank, an on-line, public repository of behavioral information. To begin, we are focusing on focal animal sample data, video clips, and published tables of data. This effort is part of EthoSource, a new global initiative to gather behavioral data in electronic form, which we have also been helping to found.
  • We are developing software (e.g., BeSt) and statistical approaches to manipulate behavioral data automatically. Current efforts are focused on behavioral sequences in a focal animal sample, and the combination of dyadic interactions into social networks.
  • Lizard Display Archive - We have stocked EthoBank with information on lizard displays, including Charles Carpenter’s extensive collection of film clips of more than 100 species of lizards producing headbob displays.
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