Research Program Overview

In the Fuxjager Lab, we work to understand how and why animals use elaborate displays for communication.

Our work integrates concepts and techniques across the natural sciences— from molecular biology to physiology to macroevolution— all to understand the complexity of behavior on a global scale. By working with non-model organisms, we leverage the diversity of animal traits to choose the ideal taxon for each study.


Mechanism: how do some species achieve extraordinary performance?

We work to discover adaptations that allow animals to produce challenging or athletic behaviors, focusing on genomic, endocrine, and musculoskeletal changes.

function: how do animals strategically use behavior to communicate?

Field experiments help us learn which behaviors are important for communication and why, specifically in the context of courtship and competition.

evolution: when and why do communication traits evolve?

There are many ways to signal: some species vocalize, and other use flashy color ornaments. But almost ever animal on the planet— from spiders to mammals— uses body movements as a core component of visual signaling. We are trying to understand how these motor patterns evolve to become more elaborate and complex over time.