About me

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I am a PhD student in the Karubian lab of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Tulane University, New Orleans. I study the ultimate and proximate mechanisms behind the evolution of ornamented phenotypes in male and female Malurus fairywrens.

My main study species are white-shouldered fairywrens (Malurus alboscapulatus) of Papua New Guinea and their sister species, red-backed fairywrens (M. melanocephalus) of Australia. Here, my main research interest are in how behavioural ecology and endocrinology interact to influence phenotypic divergence in female fairywrens within (white-shoulder fairywrens) and between (both white-shouldered and red-backed fairywrens).

Wren Map
Variation in the extent of sexual dichromatism in white-shouldered fairywrens (Malurus alboscapulatus). Left: highly dichromatic populations of Western Province, Papua New Guinea (brown circle). Right: nearly monochromatic populations of Milne Bay Province (black circle). In each bird photo, males are positioned on the left and females on the right.

In white-shouldered fairywrens, I focus predominately on the mechanisms producing divergent phenotypes in females (the bird on the right on each photo above). In red-backed fairywrens (below), I focus on within-population phenotypic plasticity in achieving ornamentation in males and if mechanisms explaining this are conserved across species.

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Female (left) and male (right) red-backed fairywrens (Malurus melanocephalus)

Prior to attending Tulane, I received my Bachelors and Masters at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina under the advisement of Dr. Lynn Siefferman. As a master’s student, I studied interspecific aggression between golden-winged and chestnut-sided warblers; my results suggested that aggression was a product of misidentification rather than interspecific competition. As an undergraduate, I focused on interspecific competition between eastern bluebirds and tree swallows.

 

 

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