Evolutionary Ecology and Physiology
I have a longstanding interest in sexual selection, sexual conflict, and reproductive biology. Over the past few years, my research has expanded to take a more comprehensive and integrated approach to write my study systems' unabridged evolutionary ecology. This daunting task cannot be done alone, so collaborators and students are key to my success.
Our research program combines molecular genetics, physiological measurements, manipulative experiments and field-based behavioural ecology to understand the evolutionary processes that generate and maintain sexually dimorphic and intrasexual polymorphic behaviours, physiology, and morphology across the landscape.
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 working to leverage this 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 character states.
My students and I have explored the links between reproductive ecology, genetics, and physiology using various model systems, including Australian painted dragons, garter snakes, and cane toads.
Our research interests include:
Sexual selection (sperm competition)
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
The evolution of life history traits- especially physiological underpinnings of sex-specific and alternative reproductive tactics effects on ageing
Thermal effects on the expression and the evolution of sexually selected and life history traits
Effect of postcopulatory sexual selection/conflict on genital interactions/function
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
Honours, UOW (2020) Sandy is studying 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 Rick Shine, Mats Olsson, and Camilla Whittington. Nicky won three awards for her research at national conferences.
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.
Masters, University of Gothenburg (2016) Rasmus' project on painted dragons was co-supervised with Mats Olsson.
Bob Mason, 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, Linköping University, Sweden
Heather Waye, University of Minnesota at Morris
Joanna Sudyka, University of Warsaw
Mark Wilson, University of Wollongong, IHMRI
Mathieu Giraudeau, CREEC
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