Evolution and Genetics of Individual Variation

Why are organisms so diverse? Even members of the same species that live in the same environment vary greatly in physical traits and at a genetic level, and we do not know why. My lab uses evolutionary, ecological, and genomic analyses to address this puzzle.

We study ecologically important features of animals such as size, color, lifespan, and social behavior, and we try to understand the causes and consequences of genetic variation in these traits. We study a variety of organisms, but focus on those that can be studied in nature and that also are amenable to experimental analysis.

Current projects include studies of the effects of social behavior on the maintenance of genetic variation in guppies and mosquitofish, genetic and social regulation of alternative life histories in sailfin mollies, and genomic analysis of poeciliid fish and fruit flies to identify genes that underlie within-population diversity. To learn more, follow the links at the left side of this page or e-mail Dr. Hughes.