Ecology & Evolution

Graduate Student Directory

Zach Boudreau

RM #4079
King
Mailcode: 4295

My research focuses on the mechanical limitations and physiological costs of cheliped autotomy in the Florida stone crab, specifically: (1) Foraging: Effects of cheliped loss on prey selection, foraging rates, and energy budget (2) Reproduction: Effects of cheliped loss on intraspecific mate competitions between male crabs and size-assortative mating patterns in exploited populations


Christopher Buddenhagen

RM #4084
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am working on phylogenomics of the beaksedges (tribe Rhynchosporeae). This involves morphological and biogeographic analyses.


Jason Cassara

RM #4055
King
Mailcode: 4295

My research interests include the evolution, genetics, and development of size/shape scaling relationships (allometry), particularly among insects. The extensive genetic toolkit available for Drosophila allows me to explore the genetic basis of allometry, while the hemimetabolous life cycle and morphological diversity of leaf-footed bugs (Heteroptera: Coreidae) is ideally suited to examining the links between allometry at all scales, from that of the individual (ontogenetic allometry) to intra- and interspecific (static and evolutionary allometry, respectively).


Jessica Cusick

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4004

My research investigates cooperative behavior, a complex social interaction that can occur between individuals within a single group or between multiple social groups. My interests span across different systems and environments as I try to understand how individuals process complex information from their social and physical environment to form cooperative groups, whether some individuals differ in their propensity to cooperate and degree of cooperative behavior, and how cooperative groups can be beneficial or costly in different situations. Dissertation Research I am currently studying cooperative breeding behavior in the Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla). In cooperative breeding systems, young individuals often forgo their own reproduction and assist other breeders raise offspring. Brown-head nuthatches are facultative cooperative breeders, meaning not all breeding groups have helpers and not all young males become helpers. This study system is ideal for testing whether individual variation in the propensity to cooperate occurs, how proximate mechanisms can maintain individual variation in cooperation, and how this influences this facultative cooperative breeding system. My dissertation research investigates within-individual consistency and interindividual variation in the propensity to cooperate and what proximate mechanisms maintain this variation within a population.


Samantha Dietz


Mysia Dye


Abigail Engleman

RM #2024
KING


Kate Hill

RM #4079
King
Mailcode: 4295

I study sponges and their associated mesofauna to examine the ecology and evolution of mutualisms. I am currently exploring how habitat and sponge host influence the diversity and abundance of associated symbionts using field manipulations in the Florida Keys and Panama.


Michael Hogan


Alexandra Hooks


David Hoover

RM #241
Biomedical Research Facility
Mailcode: 4340

I am interested in the physiological, ecological, and behavioral causes and consequences of dispersal into an ecologically marginal habitat. In particular, I am curious about how those factors may impact a species' ability to successfully colonize new territory.


Eve Humphrey

RM #241
Biomedical Research Facility
Mailcode: 4340

My research focuses on the ecological costs of predation risk and how the long-term effect of non-lethal predation influences reproduction, behavior and response of the molecular stress network. I am interested in how animals may or may not acclimate to predators over time and how natural selection may modify endocrine/behavioral responses to stress.


Johanna Imhoff

RM #2024
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in many aspects of the ecology of marine fishes. My dissertation research focuses on community ecology of six species of deepwater sharks, particularly on differences in trophic ecology and competition based on taxonomy and depth habitat. I am also studying the effect of trophic ecology on toxicology by studying methylmercury contamination in shark muscle tissue.


Megan A Jones

I am interested in many aspects of behavioral and evolutionary ecology. My dissertation research investigates the fitness consequences of cooperative display for dominant individuals, using natural variation in the level of cooperation in Corapipo altera (Aves: Pipridae, White-ruffed Manakin) as a model system.


David Kay

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295

My research interests are mainly in comparative evolutionary morphology and biomechanics, specifically teeth and feeding. I hope to investigate the mechanics of tooth wear.


Ellen Kosman

RM #4055
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in how sexual selection and intersexual conflict shape the evolution of traits involved in mating, and how trade-offs between traits may develop based on the ecology and/or mating system of an organism. Currently, I am examining the role of sperm density as a selective force on the evolution of multiple gamete traits in broadcast spawning organisms.


Stephen Kuhn-Hendricks

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in the mechanics of biological materials, specifically relating to their ability to resist damage. To examine these topics, I use approaches from materials science to understand the physics behind their deformation and therefore the diversity in microstructural features.


J. Alex Landy

RM #241
Biomedical Research Facility
Mailcode: 4340

How labile is phenotypic evolution and what factors inhibit this process? My dissertation aims to answer this question by studying the evolution of male body morphology among poeciliid fishes at three levels. At the broadest level I am studying how associations between phenotypic traits can influence the evolution and diversification of poeciliid species. At the population level I am investigating how local ecological factors maintain phenotypic differences among populations of a single species. The narrowest level of my research focuses on the role of intersexual genetic correlations and the resulting sexual conflicts on the evolution of male and female shape within a population.


Elizabeth Lange

RM #4055
KIN
Mailcode: 4295

I am generally interested in animal behavior, evolution and genetics. Currently I am investigating how variation in social environment may explain the maintenance of phenotypic variation. My dissertation work focuses on how genes, social environment and gene by social environment interactions influence the development of male behavioral and life history traits in sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna). I am also addressing how males with different life histories vary in fitness across social contexts.


Christopher Malinowski

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295

My research focuses on teleost fish demographics, life history, habitat and prey preference, reproductive behavior and other important ecological and behavioral factors that inform how anthropogenic effects (i.e. pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction) impact fish populations. I am particularly interested in the dynamics of heavy metal bioaccumulation and its effects on the Atlantic Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara), a legally protected long-lived reef fish endemic to the southeastern U.S.


Mark Margres

RM #4055
King
Mailcode: 4295

My research focuses on snake venom evolution, particularly the interaction between gene flow and selection and whether this results in local adaptation.


Ryan McKenzie

RM #2024
King
Mailcode: 4295

My thesis research explores the temporal and spatial preferences of spawning groups and describes the mating strategy in the economically and ecologically important Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata, in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico.


Andrew Merwin

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295

I'm interested in the ecology and evolution of dispersal and range expansion. Using artificial landscapes in the lab with Callosobruchus maculatus, I'm investigating how resource heterogeneity influences rates of population spread. I'm also working with the recently introduced Kudzu Bugs, Megacopta cribraria, to understand how behavioral and morphological traits associated with dispersal evolve along an invasion gradient.


Jose Moscoso

RM #4004
KING

Iím curious about the variation of gamete recognition proteins within a population of a species, particularly sea urchins, and how mating behavior is influenced by such variation.


Jessie Mutz

RM #4023
KING

I am interested in ontogenetic shifts in how insect herbivores interact with each other and their host plants. I am currently investigating how density mediates interactions at small scales and how both density as a structuring element of populations and spatial structure itself change through the life cycle in Leptinotarsa juncta (the false potato beetle), with the ultimate goal of understanding the effects of ontogenetic shifts on population dynamics and the evolution of traits related to movement (e.g., conspecific aggregation, foraging). I also use mathematical models to explore the feedbacks between density-dependent selection and proposed mechanisms of aggregation to better characterize the pathways by which aggregation might arise as an adaptive behavior versus an emergent pattern.


Kevin Olsen

RM #4023
King
Mailcode: 4295

In general I'm interested in the reproduction and recruitment of marine benthic invertebrates. Currently my research is focused on how heterogeneity within colonial corals may contribute to genetic diversity and coral reef resiliency.


Abigail Pastore

RM #4023
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am investigating how species that compete for resources may evolve to coexist. This project is based heavily on coexistence theory, and I am using protozoa cultured from ponds to address my questions.


Katelin Pearson

RM #4079
KING
Mailcode: 4295

Plant ecology, evolution, and biodiversity informatics.


Cheston Peterson

RM #2024
King
Mailcode: 4295

Iím generally interested in the community ecology of marine fishes, with particular focus on elasmobranchs. For my dissertation I am investigating the effects of a seasonal migration of Blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, on coastal seagrass communities in the Florida Big Bend, and I am using this system to evaluate evidence for either top-down control from a single predator species or diffuse predation through several species occupying similar trophic levels.


Jackson Powell


Bianca Prohaska

RM #2024
King
Mailcode: 4295

My research interests are in the physiological ecology of fishes. I am particularly interested in researching deep sea sharks, using plasma hormones to better understand their reproduction, and blood stress parameters to assess any long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Natali Rubi Ramirez-Bullon

RM #4023
King
Mailcode: 4295

Rare species are rare for different reasons and in different ways, and understanding the causes of rarity will help refine predictions for the consequences of biodiversity loss. I am interested in understanding what makes a species rare and how some are able to persist at a stable size while others are threatened with imminent extinction. I will conduct field demographic studies to compare rare and common sister taxa, and complement these with manipulations of factors that can promote rarity to identify features that differentiate rare species that are stable from rare species that are threatened by extinction.


Will Ryan

RM #4023
King
Mailcode: 4295

I use a widespread, exotic sea anemone that can undergo both sexual and asexual reproduction to understand the conditions that promote and constrain the evolution and maintenance of sex.


Andrew Sackman

RM #4055
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in the genetics of adaptation. I use experimentally evolved bacteriophage lineages to answer questions about pleiotropy, epistasis, and population dynamics.


Carl Saltzberg

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295


Brendan Scherer

RM #4055
KING
Mailcode: 4295

Plant evolution and systematics


Dalton Stanfield


Brendan Talwar

RM #2024
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in the fate of discarded deep sea elasmobranchs captured as bycatch. My research objectives are to estimate the post-release survivorship of Cuban dogfish and gulper sharks and to identify the drivers of condition and mortality within 24 hours following release.


Kathleen Torrence

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295


Jennifer Valvo

RM #4023
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in how phenotypic and genetic variation are maintained in ecologically relevant traits that are under strong natural selection. I examine this by looking at the behavioral and genomic mechanisms underlying female mate preference and the maintenance of polymorphism in Trinidad guppies (Poecilia reticulata) and their close relatives, Poecilia picta.


Carla Vanderbilt

RM #4004
King
Mailcode: 4295

I am interested in understanding complex courtship and territorial displays and the importance of social context. I am currently investigating how multiple aspects of fine-scale variation of male motor performance are related to sexual selection. My study system is the Lance-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolata), a tropical lekking bird with complex acrobatic displays.