Sexual Selection, Animal Communication, Behavioral Ecology and Evolution
My research integrates the fields of behavior, ecology, and development to better understand the evolution of sexually selected traits.
These traits have often been studied one at a time, in isolation from one another, and as if they were the product of a single selective force. In nature, however, multiple sexual traits can interact to affect individual fitness, and multiple selective forces can interact to shape the evolution of a single sexual trait. With these ideas in mind, I currently work with two study systems to explore how such interactions affect trait evolution, and am expanding my work to a broader range of animal taxa:
(1) I simultaneously examine variation in traits used during pre-copulatory processes, such as weapons, and traits used during post-copulatory processes, such as genitalia and testes, to determine how these primary and secondary sexual traits interact to affect male reproductive success. For these questions, I work with the neotropical tortoise beetle Acromis sparsa
(2) I also use predator phonotaxis experiments to determine how selective pressures from eavesdropping bat predators can work in agreement with, or against the force of sexual selection to influence the diversification of mating calls and the genesis of novel call components. For these questions, I work with the fringe-lipped bat Trachops cirrhosus and frogs in the genus Physalaemus.