evolutionary ecology, adaptive coloration, visual ecology, complex signals, optimal phenotypes, computer vision
Why do animals look the way they do? What evolutionary processes have contributed to the generation and maintenance of the incredible diversity we see in animals today? Are animal appearances optimal, or do they reflect selective trade-offs? Why does a particular species occupy a certain region of phenotype space? My research is focused on answering these questions by studying the evolution of the form and function of animal color patterns. I am interested in multiple scales of inquiry, ranging from the in-depth analysis of a specific signal to comparative analyses assessing evolutionary trends across large groups.
My previous research has focused mostly on primates. Elaborate coloration and ornamentation has been studied extensively in other taxa such as birds and fish, however studies assessing the form and function of mammalian color are relatively lacking. Primates are the most colorful group of mammals, and some primate groups in particular exhibit extraordinary colors and/or structures. Primates also have a variety of different visual systems, ranging from monochromatic vision (seeing in shades of gray) to trichromatic vision (similar to that of humans), which allows for interesting questions to be asked regarding the relationship between visual system and visual signaling. These characteristics make primates an excellent group in which to study adaptive coloration and visual signaling in mammals.