Encounter a landscape full of complex minds. Experience the impact they will have on your own.
My research focuses on the evolution of social and sexual behavior in taxa ranging from arthropods to humans. My interests center on the evolutionary adaptiveness of contingent responses of animal and human minds, as reflected in behavior, to diverse challenges associated with sexual reproduction and social living.
My nearly continuous studies of the sexual selection system of the sierra dome spider, Neriene (=Linyphia) litigiosa (Linyphiidae), are now in their 43rd year. These studies integrate field and lab work, include experimental manipulations of factors affecting sexual decision-making in nature, consider the effect of a probable sexually transmitted disease on the structure of the mating system, as well as individual variation in male and female mating decisions.
I address seldom examined issues of how processes of male-male competition and female choice co-evolve and interact, in deep ecological context, to form a "whole" mating system. A major
innovative goal moving forward is to examine mate and sire selection based on the sex partner’s pathogen load and entire microbiome.
I involve graduate and advanced undergraduate students in all my research, and spend a good deal of time advising students on their own projects.
I am looking for a senior student or postdoctoral "heir" to the sierra dome spider sexual selection system. It deserves continued scientific attention, far more than I can supply. I'll teach you what I know and show you how to work with this creature so you'll hit the ground running! I'll meet you in the field at Flathead Lake Biological Station. I'll help you write a grant proposal. Please, contact me if interested.