My students and I seek to uncover the links between reproductive ecology, genetics, and physiology using various model systems including Australian painted dragons, garter snakes, and cane toads.

Our interests include:

  • Sexual selection and sexual conflict

  • The evolution of sexually-dimorphic behavior and morphology

  • The evolution of life history traits- especially physiological underpinnings of sex-specific and alternative reproductive tactics effects on ageing

For example, we work to understand:


How and which proximate mechanisms mediate trade-offs between pre- and post-copulatory sexually selected traits. Trade offs between traits that evolve in response to these two episodes of selection underlie the emergence of alternative mating and life history strategies.


How and why wild organisms age, and the fitness consequences of aging on sexual selection in wild populations. 

Why the interests of the sexes may be incongruent, how trait function generates sexual conflict, and how sexually antagonistic coevolution has shaped the most intimate interaction between the sexes: copulation and genital coevolution. 

How environmental factors influence physiology and behavior in ways that may cause variation in mating system dynamics among populations.


Sandra Chatham
Honours, UOW (2020)

Sandy is studying the behavioural ecology of mate choice and male competition in painted dragon lizards.
Nicky Rollings
PhD USYD (2019)

Nicky's project on painted dragon telomere dynamics was co-supervised with Rick Shine, Mats Olsson, and Camilla Whittington. Nicky won three awards for her research at national conferences.
Callum McDiarmid
Honours USYD (2016)

Callum's project on painted dragon sexual selection and color polymorphism was co-supervised with Mats Olsson.

Callum won an award for his research at the 2016 Australian Society for Herpetology Conference.
Rasmus Johansson
Masters, University of Gothenburg (2016)

Rasmus' project on painted dragons was co-supervised with Mats Olsson.
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Phil Byrne, University of Wollongong

Rick Shine, University of Sydney

Bob Mason, Oregon State University

Mats Olsson, University of Gothenburg

Don Powers, George Fox University

Patty Brennan, Mount Holyoke College

Randy Krohmer, St. Xavier University

Heather Waye, University of Minnesota at Morris

Mark Wilson, University of Wollongong

Camilla Whittington, University of Sydney

Simon de Graaf, University of Sydney

Emily Uhrig, Linköping University, Sweden

Suzanne Estes, Portland State University

Steve Arnold, Oregon State University

Deb Lutterschmidt, Portland State University

Mathieu Giraudeau, Arizona State