The main research topics in our lab include:
The basic theory of sexual selection is concerned with the patterns of genetic variation in male and female sexual traits. We are incorporating considerations about social and developmental plasticity into this theory.
Cognitive ecology seeks to understand how animals store and use information about their environments, and how this is shaped by natural and sexual selection and by the way in which brains are designed. We are seeking objective measures of the amount and complexity of information in behavior and cognition. For example, web spiders often remember information about captured prey, and search their webs for prey that they have lost. We use this searching behavior to study the features of the spiders’ prey that are represented in their memory.
We are using mate preference functions –quantitative descriptions of how sexual response varies with the features of sexual displays– to study the causes of variation in mate choice behavior and their contribution to sexual selection and speciation.