Behaviour, Evolutionary Ecology & Physiology (BEEP LAB)
I have a longstanding interest in sexual selection, sexual conflict, and reproductive biology. Over the past few years, my research has expanded taking a more comprehensive and integrated approach to understand my study systems' "unabridged" evolutionary ecology--to do this one needs to know their study organisms well. Of course, this task cannot be done alone, so students and collaborators are the key to success.
Currently, we are working to understand the eco-evolutionary processes responsible for the geographic variation in sexually selected colouration, body size, and sexual size dimorphism (and possible differences in age and ageing rates) of the wide-ranging Australian painted dragon lizards (Ctenophorus pictus). We are leveraging geographic variation in life history and sexually selected traits along substantial temperature/aridity clines to determine how thermal adaptation might influence selection and mediate physiological tradeoffs between characters and between character states. We conduct our research in the field and at UOW's Ecological Research Centre.
We also maintain ongoing collaborations working on red-sided garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis), which also bridges between environmental effects and sexual selection and the costs of reproduction.
Our research uses an integrative approach focusing on behaviour, physiology, genetics and reproductive ecology to address fundamental ecological and evolutionary topics, such as:
Sexual selection (from intrasexual competition and mate choice to sperm competition and cryptic female choice)
Tradeoffs between pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection
Oxidative stress and telomere dynamics
Energetic costs of behaviour and reproduction
The evolution of sexually-dimorphic behavior and morphology
Thermal effects on the expression and the evolution of sexually selected and life history traits
Intersexual co-evolutionary processes generated by postcopulatory sexual selection/conflict on genital interactions/function (and behaviors).
I am also interested in "classic" ecology, e.g., the influences of predation, parasitism, inter- and intraspecific competition and niche partitioning on the evolution of my focal species across their range
PhD Candidate at USYD (2022- Co-supervised with Frank Seebacher) Honours, UOW (2021) Dan's project investigated thermal effects on behaviour, metabolism and telomeres in painted dragons.
Honours, UOW (2020) Sandy's project was on the behavioural ecology of mate choice and male competition in painted dragon lizards.
PhD USYD (2019) Nicky's project on painted dragon telomere dynamics was co-supervised with Mats Olsson.
Honours USYD (2016) Callum's project on painted dragon sexual selection and sperm performance was co-supervised with Mats Olsson. Callum won an award for his research at the 2016 Australian Society for Herpetology Conference.
MS, U. of Gothenburg (2016) Rasmus' project was on morph- and sex-specific metabolic rates C. pictus was co-supervised with Mats Olsson.
Honours, UOW (2023) Dallys described geographic variation in head colour in painted dragon lizards.
Bob Mason, Oregon State University
Brianna Beechler, Oregon State University
Camilla Whittington, University of Sydney
Catherine Grueber, University of Sydney
Dan Noble, Australian National University
Deb Lutterschmidt, University of California, Irvine
Denis O’Meally, Beckman Research Institute
Don Powers, George Fox University
Emily Uhrig, University of Maine
Frank Seebacher, University of Sydney
Heather Waye, University of Minnesota at Morris
Joanna Sudyka, University of Warsaw
Mark Wilson, University of Wollongong, IHMRI
Mathieu Giraudeau, CREEC, France
Mats Olsson, University of Gothenburg
Matt Dean, University of Southern California
M. Rockwell Parker, James Madison University
Nathan Clark, University of Utah
Patty Brennan, Mount Holyoke College
Randy Krohmer, St. Xavier University
Simon de Graaf, University of Sydney
Steve Arnold, Oregon State University
Suzanne Estes, Portland State University