Anticipated Research — Over the next several years, I will investigate how community interactions contribute to behavioral variation among populations, and whether such variation can predict response to natural and artificial selection.
Variation in collective behavior and its regulatory mechanisms — My work on treehoppers shows that the functions and benefits of negative feedback, a likely common regulatory mechanism for collectively behaving animals, can differ between two closely-related species. In all of the species in several closely-related genera in this group, offspring collectively signal in response to predator attacks. Prior work suggests geographic variation in dominant predator types, in degree of predation pressure, and in maternal and offspring signaling traits. This is an excellent study system for comparative study of the regulatory mechanisms of collective behavior, and for testing the effects of community composition on collective behavior functions, costs, and benefits.
The influence of geographic variation in community composition on mate choice and reproductive success — The two community members that influence leaf-footed bug mate preferences occur in some populations, but not others, suggesting that mating preferences should differ across populations. I will assess how historic community structure influences mate preferences, and how manipulation of community structure affects female fitness.