Primary Research Thrusts


1) Sexual selection along an urban-rural desert gradient - As part of our aforementioned NSF funded work on retinal carotenoids in house finches, we are also developing an educational and outreach compon
ent by tracking carotenoid allocations and functions in urban and rural desert birds, using both field observational and lab experimental approaches (Post-doc = Mat Giraudeau; Funding = National Science Foundation IOS 0923694).

  1. 2) Personality, cognition, and stress in the city - To extend our long-term urbanization work on sexual selection in house finches, we have begun to probe behavioral plasticity and syndromes at our urban, suburban, and rural study sites (PhD student = Melinda Weaver)

3) Control and function of colors in other critters - To expand beyond some of our prior avian model systems, we are testing the control agents and signaling roles of ornamental colors in animals like chameleons (PhD student = Rusty Ligon) and butterflies (PhD student = Brett Seymoure).

  1. 4)Carotenoid allocation and life-history strategies in New Zealand birds - We are using field measurements to define the priorities, limitations, and allocations of different carotenoids to different tissues and to different self-maintenance and integumentary functions in colorful and non-colorful birds (Funding: University of Canterbury Erskine programme).

  1. 5)Effects of Fukushima radiation disaster on wildlife - The 2012 tsunami and

        subsequent nuclear spill in Japan potentially threatened the health and

        viability of many wild animals. With funding from the ANR (France), we

        are investigating ecophysiological effects of this disaster on frogs and birds.

  1. 6)Plasticity in sexual selection - Sexual selection is traditionally studied as a

        constant directional pressure, but in a neotropical ant-tanager we are tracking

        spatial and temporal variation in environmental conditions as well as signal production and use (PhD

        student = Rick Simpson).