Our research centres on interactions among closely related species and how selection and evolution vary along environmental gradients, in particular, latitude. Our work also involves describing the biology, or 'natural history', of poorly-known species.
To address questions of interest, we use field and lab experiments coupled with observations from nature and comparative studies, all within an evolutionary framework.
We also frequently collaborate on projects outside of our research foci, including studies of physiological and urban adaptation in birds in collaboration with Fran Bonier.
Interactions Among Species
How do closely related species, who often share ecological traits and preferences through recent shared ancestry, live together? What determines when these species overlap versus segregate their distributions? Are interactions among species consistent and predictable, and what are their consequences for the ecology and evolution of species? These are some of the questions that we ask in our research, all of which are of central importance to our understanding of local diversity and limits on the distributions of species.
Evolution Across Latitude
The latitudinal increase in diversity from the poles to the equator is one of the most exciting patterns in biology. We study how evolution varies with latitude to influence patterns of diversity and the traits of species.
Our work has examined latitudinal variation in species interactions, sexual selection, population differentiation, colour patterns, physiology, and life history, and has included more direct tests of mechanisms thought to underlie latitudinal variation in diversity.
Natural history is an important component of all of our work, creating a foundation from which to address broader questions in biology.
Natural history is also an excellent tool for capturing the attention of students and the general public, creating new and personal connections between people and nature.
Much of our previous work has focused on little-known birds of the tropics, often in collaboration with Harold Greeney, Rob Dobbs, and Rudy Gelis. Our more recent work has focused on temperate birds and burying beetles.