Work in the lab is focused on the interplay between an individual’s genotype, its behavior and its environment. We are particularly interested in genetic variation in the ways that individuals choose, manipulate, and experience their environments, and the consequences of such variation for behavioral development and evolution. Our particular (but not exclusive) focus is on the social environment, which is uniquely created by individuals in the population (reviewed in Saltz et al 2016 Evolutionary Ecology).
We study fruit flies as a model system because they are awesome. Currently we are investigating:
Who experiences which environment, and why?
How do environments affect behavior over time?
-How do genetic variation and experience in the environment make each individual unique?
-Why do individuals differ in how they change their behavior in response to experiences and are these differences generalizable across contexts?
-Which mutations in which genes cause variation and why?
How does genetic variation in social behaviors influence evolution?
-How and why do social environments differ in selection pressures? Do genotypes choose environments in which they have the highest fitness?-How do social environments modulate ecological sources of selection, e.g., the spread of disease?