Research overview

Our lab works at the interface of ecology, behavior, evolution and conservation biology. The common theme uniting our diverse research projects is how environmental conditions, including both social and ecological environment, shape animal behaviors like mating strategies, foraging ecology, and expression of signals. Here, we provide overviews of our major lines of research.

Plant-animal interactions

In the tropics, most plant species depend upon animals to disperse their pollen and seeds. Our lab uses molecular analyses, field data and experiments to test how the behavioral ecology of animal dispersal vectors shapes the ecological and genetic structure of plant communities. Click here to find out more…




Sexual selection and mating systems

Sexual selection, the competition for access to mates, is one of Darwin’s great contributions to our understanding of the natural world. Our lab explores how factors like social environment, ecological environment, and phylogeny determine variation in male and female signals and behavior, and what the consequences are for mate choice and survival. Click here to find out more…


Gulf Coast ecology

During breeding season, the ability of seabirds to acquire adequate prey not only regulates the fitness of adults, but also the physiological condition of their nestlings. On top of foraging constraints due to nesting obligations, a suite of environmental and individual factors influence the efficacy of different foraging strategies. Our lab uses state-of-the-art GPS tags to track brown pelican movement and foraging patterns across the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline in order to ascertain how foraging ecology changes over time and space. In particular, we evaluate patterns in reference to environmental contamination (i.e., from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill), environmental conditions (i.e., hypoxia), and the loss of barrier island breeding habitat. Click here to find out more..

  Main research page pelican pic


Conservation biology

The tropics are home to more species of animal and plant than anywhere else on the planet, and many of these species are poorly known and/or threatened with extinction. Because we work primarily in the tropics, a core value of this lab is that our scientific research should contribute to conservation of biodiversity when possible. For this reason, our research goals include the basic biology, natural history, and conservation requirements of poorly known and endangered species. Click here to find out more…

We link the scientific research described on this page to training, education and development programs in priority habitats, as described in our Community partners page.