Some areas of enduring interest include:
Organisms need to gather and exchange information with the world at large, and we are broadly interested in understanding the mechanisms, causes and evolutionary consequences of this basic challenge. Current projects examine how suites of traits coevolve to enable effective communication in ‘noisy’ natural environments, how the information encoded in diverse visual cues (colour, pattern, motion) is integrated and weighed, and the role of communication in shaping local adaptation and speciation. We also enjoy testing and extending methods for analysing colour and vision in nature, as well as developing software that improves the accessibility of such tools.
Natural and sexual selection in the wild
Can we predict the trajectory of evolution? How does sexual and natural selection mediate adaptation? We are keen to understand the workings of adaptive evolution in nature. Current projects span sexual selection, dynamic signalling, and local adaptation in iridescent flies, as well as the role of sensory biases in sexual and deceptive signal evolution. We are also interested in using urban environments as novel testing grounds for theory, and understanding the consequences of the human modification of sensory landscapes.
The evolutionary ecology of (mis)information
Deception and misinformation is rife in the natural world. Spiders pose as flowers to attract foraging insects, defenceless prey mimic the signals of the chemically defended, and rewardless flowers imitate their nectar-rich counterparts. We have an ongoing interest in misinformation, its evolutionary causes, and ecological consequences. The colour polymorphic lures of tropical spiders have proven a rich model for unravelling these puzzles, though many questions remain.