Bat Sensory Ecology and Morphometry
We are studying (1) the variability of skull shape and its relationship with dietary ecology in New World leaf-nosed bats and (2) the relationship between sensory morphometry (e.g. eye globe size, olfactory bulb size) as analyzed with diffusible contrast-enhanced iodine staining, dietary ecology, and skull shape in New World Leaf Nosed Bats.
This work is in collaboration with a broad network of researchers from Stony Brook, UC Merced, UCLA, and the Queen Mary University of London,
The Complexity of Mammal Forelimbs
Mammals have evolved into a wide variety of niches, with many of these niches requiring substantial remodeling of the forelimb (e.g., flying in bats, digging in moles). We are studying the internal morphology of mammalian forelimbs using cross-sectional geometry analyses and external morphology using 3D geometric morphometrics to better understand convergence in mammalian forelimb structure and the coupling and decoupling of rates of morphological evolution in the forelimb and rates of speciation and extinction.
Thus far, this research has centered on rodents, but future work is being done on other small mammals including moles, shrews, and bats.
Amphibian Movement Ecology and Climate Change
Amphibians are a critical component in forest ecosystems. I am a member of SPARCnet (Salamander Population Adaptation Research Collaboration Network) studying the behavior of the red-backed salamander throughout its range and the potential effects on this salamander species as a result of climate change.
This research is being conducted at both the macroclimatic scale (using methods such as fuzzy logic and species distribution modeling) as well as at the microclimatic scale (using spatial capture-recapture).
We are also broadly interested in how amphibians respond to other anthropogenic factors such as urbanization and roads.
Taphonomic Distortion and its Effects on Shape
Fossils all undergo some degree of taphonomic distortion as a result of normal fossilization processes. However, this distortion means that the fossils studied by paleontologists are not the same shape that the fossil taxon had in life, complicating biological interpretations. Using a range of modern and fossil taxa, we have quantified the magnitude of asymmetric distortion in fossils.
We are currently working to develop corrections to the issue of taphonomic distortion through a combination of field and modeling studies.
Female Genital Morphology and Sexual Selection
Genitals are among the most variable in nature and their morphological variation is linked to both natural selection and sexual selection. Further, male and female genitalia often evolve under evolutionary arms races. While male genitalia has been extensively studied for many decades across a wide variety of taxonomic groups, female genitalia is understudied.
We are working to better understand the selective pressures under which female genitalia have evolved and how female morphology relates to male genitalia using 3D imaging and shape analyses (Shark vaginas in 2D and 3D on left).