Research Program Overview

My lab's core goal is to understand how and why animals produce remarkable behaviors. To address this, we use a variety of techniques and species to study everything from neuromotor mechanisms underlying acrobatic performance to macroevolution of behavioral complexity on a global scale. To learn more about our specific research questions, use the links at left or below.

 
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neuromotor mechanisms of display behavior

How do animals perform complex display behaviors? For many species, display performance is rooted in the interactions between skeletal muscle, steroid hormones, and the central and peripheral nervous system.

montesmall

evolution of animal gesture

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.

OYYM

territorial aggression

The social life of many species revolves around the home territory. Knowing when and where to deploy aggressive behavior is a fundamental part of success as a territorial species-- but how and why does an animal behave aggressively in different social contexts?