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 

g snake sperm.jpg
Male painted dragon cooling off surveying his territory
"Mate choice" of an aggressive male



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

Erik Wapstra, University of Tasmania (BEER group)

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

Phil Byrne, University of Wollongong (EARL group)

Randy Krohmer, St. Xavier University

Rick Shine, Macquarie University

Simon de Graaf, University of Sydney

Steve Arnold, Oregon State University

Suzanne Estes, Portland State University

Team pictus.png

N Rollings

_DSC8062_Innes NP male .jpg
_DSC5131_Mul Sta male_edited.jpg