The focus of my research is the relationship between the longear sunfish Lepomis megalotis and the bluenose shiner Pteronotropis welaka. Male longear sunfish make nests and defend their eggs, and bluenose shiners spawn in those nests. The relationship is called nest association, and is something like brood parasitism which is seen in birds like cuckoos and cowbirds. Both species show sexual dimorphism, with showy males and plainer females. I'm interested in the system for several reasons. First, both species are local, and bluenose shiners are relatively rare. By investigating their reproduction hopefully I can learn something with local conservation benefits. Second, because reproduction of the two species is so closely intertwined, there is the potential for some interesting effects, like cross species signaling modifying sexual selection.
Because I find all sorts of things interesting, I'm running another experiment on the side using the lab's killifish Kryptolebias marmoratus. We house most of our individuals in isolation to reduce the chances of mixing clone lines, but in the wild they do come into contact with each other. What effect does this have on their growth, aggression, and hormone levels? I'm trying to find out by raising clones either in groups or singly for several months, and then analyzing the differences between them.
I've got a number of other interests in biology that I don't have time to pursue in graduate school: eusociality, the nature of human dominated ecosystems, exobiology, closed microcosms, animal cognition, and anything that involves fieldwork on a tropical island. I'm also available to lend a hand when anyone in the lab needs a SCUBA diver.