Evolution of enhanced social cognition in P. fuscatus
Female Northern Paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus) have highly variable facial and body coloration. This individual variation is used as a signal to recognize nest mates and mediate social interactions. As a result, enhanced social cognition is a recent and novel innovation in P. fuscatus. We are constructing a de novo genome for P. fuscatus, which will allow us to examine the tempo and mode of selection for social cognition.
Mechanisms of Diversification in Paper wasps
The United States is home to sixteen native species of Polistes paper wasps. These species have overlapping distributions and occupy the same general ecological niche yet exhibit a striking diversity of coloration both within and between species. I am using museum collections to provide a comprehensive overview of color pattern diversity in paper wasps. This distribution of And investigating mate choice and speciation.
THREESPINE STICKLEBACK Adaptation in RESPONSE to Biotic Selection
My PhD work in the Schluter lab at the University of British Columbia examined the morphological, behavioral, and genetic response of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) to intraguild predation by prickly sculpin (Cottus asper). Intraguild predation is a specialized trophic interaction that occurs when a predator eats a prey species that is also a competitor. I compared stickleback from recently colonized populations (<10,000 years) differing only by the presence/absence of sculpin. This research revealed that the presence/absence of sculpin has led to parallel, genetically based, changes in body shape, diet preference, armour morphology, and social behavior. Even more remarkable, we found that adaptation to intraguild predation has occurred through parallel selection on over 600 genes.