The Evolution of Sexual Dimorphism and Female Display Traits
In the course of another project we noticed that many female sticklebacks at one site had conspicuous red throats, and we became interested in the evolution of such traits. This work, currently our main project for students, has involved behavioral experiments on mate choice; hormones; color and behavior; QTL analyses (part of Lengxob Yong’s PhD); studies of gene expression; and currently a large GWAS study. This project has also morphed into a more integrative study of stickleback color pattern dimorphism, including pelvic spine coloration and the histology of color pattern divergence and convergence.
Yong et al. (2015) - Intrasexual competition and throat color evolution in female three-spined stickleback
My first book has just been published with MIT Press. Aimed at a general audience, it is about the biodiversity of ancient lakes. I care deeply about this project because of my concerns about the continuing degradation of these remarkable systems. I want to tell as many people as I can about the wonders of these underappreciated hotspots of endemism and diversity, and what they are teaching us about evolution. You can learn more about it elsewhere on this site. Please contact me directly if you wish to inquire about outreach talks on this topic.
Color Pattern Evolution Across the Sticklebacks
We are intrigued by the diversity of sticklebacks in the Canadian maritimes and have been implementing new methods of UV-Vis image analysis, in a comparative study that has begun with Fourspine stickleback, Apeltes quadracus. Some of this work is in collaboration with Anne Dalziel of St. Mary’s University. BS student Kyle Ifill (here on left) has been very involved with this project, with some NSF REU support.
Study Abroad, Inquiry and Field Intensives in 1st Year Biology
I have been involved in working to advance science pedagogy since I was funded by NSF’s CCLI program some years ago. Lately this has involved collaborations (most recently with Heather Vance-Chalcraft, ECU) on field-intensive study abroad versions of Introductory Biology laboratories, now taking place each spring break in Costa Rica. You can learn more about this program elsewhere on this site. To help train students for the course we set up tools like this one for learning to identify some common Costa Rica (La Selva) birds. Here is one for Eastern NC frogs and toads. I have also been involved in training graduate students in the mentoring of undergraduate researchers.