General Interests

  • Evolutionary and ecological consequences of phenotypic plasticity (primary interest)
  • Marine invertebrate life-history evolution (secondary interest)

I research how the environment affects marine organisms. In particular, I am interested in how the biotic environment, like predators and competitors, affects the morphology and behavior or marine animals. My work is a combination of laboratory and field experiments, and mathematical models.

Current Work

Morphological plasticity to multiple types of predators

Experimental Setup Pisaster eating Nucella I am currently interested in how organisms response when exposed to multiple inducing agents. In particular, I am testing whether prey exposed to a single type of predator respond differently compared to when prey are exposed to multiple predators. I currently working with the whelk Nucella lamellosa as the prey, and the seastar Pisaster ochraceous and the crab Cancer productus as the predators.

Sea stars wasting syndrome

Picture of aquaria with sea starsPicture of the sunflower star In the summer and fall of 2013, sea stars along the coast west coast of North America died in large numbers. The die-off is attributed to sea star wasting syndrome, but the proximate cause is not known. To better understand the causes and ecological impacts of the syndrome, my lab is working on laboratory experiments and field surveys.

Evolutionary consequences of plasticity

Fitness Landscape

I am working on a model that investigates how different costs of plasticity can alter rates of evolutionary change. Initial modeling suggests that plasticity the type of cost can greatly affect rates of evolution.

Interpreting experimental evidence for adaptive phenotypic plasticity

There is an increasing interest in experimentally testing whether phenotypic plasticity is adaptive. However, currently most tests are very difficult to interpret because of plausible alternative explanations. I am developing methods for distiguishing among these alternative explanations, which will allow for much stronger interferences about whether particular examples of plasticity are adaptive.

Page Updated 04.11.2014