Research




As an organismal biologist, my research program examines how morphological variation affects the performance, behavior, and ecology of animals at the species- and individual-levels. Specifically, I test the mechanisms that contribute to (1) the generation and maintenance of species and phenotypic diversity across macroevolutionary scales and (2) the variation of survival and fitness between individuals within single populations.

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Drivers of mammalian body shape diversity

Mammals vary in a magnitude of body shapes from robust tank-like elephants to elongate weasels. What drive these patterns?

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Effects of tool use on foraging success

Some sea otters use tools to break hard-shelled seafood, but others don't. Does this variation influence individual foraging success?

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Squirrel ecomorphology 
aka #TeamSquirrel

Some squirrels dig, others climb, and a select few even glide! Has specialization of the axial skeleton facilitate these different behaviors?

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Climatic effects on body elongation

Do individuals living in cooler environments exhibit more elongate bodies than individuals living in warmer climates?

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Functional morphology of durophagous feeding

Sea otters eat a variety of hard-shelled sea food. What adaptations enable them to break open these different hard prey items?

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Elucidating uneven species disparity

There are over 56 described mustelids but only 14 raccoons, 12 skunks, and 1 red panda. What led to this incredible species disparity?

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Evolution of cranial form and function

Do evolutionary changes in cranial size and shape lead to enhanced bite force?

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Evolution of sexual dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is widespread across animals. How does sexual selection and niche divergence contribute to this phenomenon?

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