Identifying species differences in behavioral patterns

African cichlids show a great variety of behaviors in the wild that allow them to find mates, defend their homes, and gather food. Species can have very different strategies for these tasks – these behaviors critical for the survival of the animal, and often have a genetic basis. I’ve worked to develop methods to quantify exploratory behaviors in the lab to ultimately ask questions about the genetic changes that influence the … More Identifying species differences in behavioral patterns

Polygenic sex determination: are there more than two phenotypic sexes?

Cichlids have genetic sex determination, meaning that the chromosomes they inherit from mom and dad determine whether they will be male or female. However, their system is a little more complicated than ours is. As we study the biology of sex, it is important that we keep in mind the diversity in secondary sex characters. Sexual “dimorphism” may realistically be sexual polymorphism, as the development of these traits depends not only on the sex determination gene(s), but any linked genes on the sex chromosome, modifiers across the genome, and the environment. … More Polygenic sex determination: are there more than two phenotypic sexes?

Quantitative genetics of adaptive traits

We have hybrid crosses between species which can be used to directly connect genotype to phenotype–to identify regions in the genome that are associated with our traits of interest. Each individual can be measured for many traits, allowing us to answer many questions with the same genetic resource. Once we know the general regions in the genome to look at, we can narrow down our candidates with population genomic comparisons in those regions. … More Quantitative genetics of adaptive traits