A new paper in Journal of Evolutionary Biology reports unexpected diversity in metabolic network structures in a wild bird population and argues that evolutionary diversification and local adaptations in carotenoid metabolism depend more on the gain or loss of enzymatic reactions than on changes in metabolic flux within a network structure.
1 June 2017
Gillian Griffen joins two projects: examining the evolution of metabolic networks across recently established populations of house finches in Montana and the evolution of feather microstructure in relation to carotenoid deposition. In addition to her interests and background in biology, Gillian brings with her an unusually extensive and successful career in business ownership and management.
Jakob Abtahi (right) pictured here with Xander Posner, received 2nd Place Prize for his poster "Precise adaptation without loss of adaptive potential: An example from avian beak evolution". He is supervised by postoc Georgy Semenov
4 February 2017
Our bobcat inserting itself into one of the most celebrated mutualistic interactions in Sonoran Desert is the frontpage of Arizona Daily Star — the state largest newspaper. This is our fourth (e.g., #3) cover with the newspaper. The original photo is here.
A year after winning most of the Department's top research awards, Sarah is now awarded NSF's GRFP for her proposal "Colorful pigments: Analyzing the evolution of avian carotenoids" and will continue her doctoral research in Julia Clarke's Lab in UT Austin.
The Lab presents four posters at the 2017 EEB Undergraduate Research Symposium. Adam Welu presented a summary of this Honor Thesis (defended on 5 May 2017) on "The biochemical basis of within species color polymorphism". Jakob Abtahi talked about his current work: "Precise adaptation without loss of adaptive potential". Caitlin Davey discussed "Metabolic divergence of ecologically distinct taxa" analysing data from nearly 300 species, Xander Posner talked about the evolution of controllability in complex directed networks -- the Lab's next Big Project.
Our cover of the 2017 March/April issue of Montana Magazine highlights the main feature on novel biomechancs of flying squirrel's flight. According to the publishers, it is the most popular issue of the last several years.
15 January 2017
Developmental channeling of structural neurological trade-offs is central to the origins of adaptive behavioral complexity, according to new paper in Advances in the Study of Behavior. With Renee Duckworth and Ahva Potticary
1 January 2017
Jakob brings his interest in cellular and molecular biology to the Evolution in the Last Best Place project, investigating ontogenetic transformations in beak tissues during population diversification in Montana's house finches.
"The winning image combines ephemerality with constancy and emergence with predictability,” says judge and award-winning nature photographer Alex Badyaev in a statement, "and in doing so, it captures the essence of this species’ natural history—an explosive, once-in-a-lifetime, mating dance of one of the world’s shortest-lived animals triggered and revealed by the millions-of-years old light of distant stars”. The winner and 12 finalists (also here and here) of the Royal Society Photography Competition were selected from more than 1,000 entries from dozens of countries.
5 June 2016
Courtney's interests at the interface of natural history and evolutionary biology will facilitate her studies of directional evolutionary transitions in within-species polymorphisms.
1 March 2017
The lab's side project on evolutionary innovations in flying squirrels made the front page and a multipage Sunday Territory feature of Missoulian, the largest newspaper in the state of Montana.
"Cycles of coexistence with wolves shaped the legendary versatility of coyotes" according to a popular science feature in Arizona Alumni Magazine
29 September 2016
Bringing tequila to the world. California Academy of Science's bioGraphic publishes Agave Whisperers
15 May 2016
Erin Morrison publishes a new cover (also here) paper in Integrative & Comparative Biology outlining a predictive framework to "test the contributions of structural and dynamic properties of deterministic networks to evolutionary diversifications".
12 October 2016
"An unmistakable midnight sight in Tucson’s fall" is featured in Arizona Alumni Magazine (Redeye Commuters).
The Lab students presented 6 (!) comprehensive papers at the 2016 EEB Poster session. Caitlin Davey analyzed correspondence between ecological specialization and metabolic complexity across 250 species, Emmet Andrews talked about structural and dynamic subsampling of shared traits in sexual dimorphisms, Xander Posner presented the test of new approach for analysing coevolution of controllability and complexity, Sarah Davis discussed the origin of novel color phenotypes during population divergence, and Adam Welu presented in-depth analysis of the biochemical basis of within-species polymorphisms.
26 April 2016
The inaugural issue of the California Academy of Sciences' new bioGraphic, "an innovative new magazine showcasing biodiversity and extraordinary scientific discoveries", highlights two (1, 2) of the lab's collaborative projects.
25 April 2016
This month's Arizona Magazine features the climbing fox story.
25 April 2016
Sarah Davis in the Winner of the 2016 Excellence in Research Award! Following her other recent top research awards, Sarah receives the prestigious 2016 Excellence in Research Award from the Department (and is nominated for the College of Science Excellence in Research Award). Between interviewing at top graduate schools across the country and considering various doctoral offers, Sarah is finishing up her thesis in the Lab.
1 March 2016
Following recent keynote to a few hundred brilliant undergrads, Alex had now faced a much more intimidating convention of a few hundred forged-in-fire high school teachers. The talk seemed to have went well...
26 January 2016
Arizona Daily Star puts us on its cover, highlights two (1, 2) lab research projects in its Science 2016 section, and uses our photo to celebrate state's birthday. This is our third cover with this newspaper.
1 March 2016
Alexander Posner brings his interests in evolutionary anthropology and training in mathematics to a variety of research projects in the lab. Among his many recognitions, Xander is a National Scholar and a recipient of four consecutive Awards for Academic Excellence (2010-4).
"Ubiquitous, but previously overlooked, structural property of underlying metabolic networks produces cycles of carotenoid diversification in birds ", says our new major paper published this week in Biology Direct, succinctly summarizing in 20 pages (+ about 70 pages more in Supplementary) ten years of work and thinking. Funded by the Packard Fellowship, this is our best scientific work to date.
Dr. Georgy Semenov joins the lab as the 2015 G.G. Simpson Fellow. Georgy studies genomic basis of speciation and population divergence in birds (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4). His G.G. Simpson postdoctoral fellowship combines cutting edge genomic and bioinformatics approaches with extensive field sampling and collections work. He emerges from his first field season having set a record of fieldwork in the most distant locations across the US's fourth largest state in a single season.
Our cover of August's Evolution highlights Jeff Good's finding of weak nuclear introgression in very actively speciating chipmunks.
1 September 2015
If you ever wondered how beavers fell giant trees directionally (in a crashing violation of The Central Place Foraging Theory), read a new cover feature in National Wildlife or see the photos for the first popular summary of this recently completed long-term project.
20 April 2015
Caitlin Davey joins the lab officially, having worked with us since her high school. Caitlin will continue investigate the mechanisms behind sex differences in feather microstructure.
12 April 2015
Emmet Andrews joins the lab. In his UBRP and Honors Thesis study, Emmet will address the correspondence between dynamic and static properties of complex biochemical networks.
15 April 2015
Sarah Davis receives the First Place Award (Emergent Category) for her poster at the 2015 EEB Undergraduate Research Session. The lab’s students presents three additional excellent posters at the event: Adam Welu with "Do changes in enzymatic network underlie age-dependent optimization of carotenoid displays in a bird?", Victoria Farrar with "Evolution of novel color phenotypes during population establishment: Genetic, biochemical, and ecological considerations", and Tayler LaSharr (last year's First Place Winner) with "Mechanisms influencing distribution and the coexistence of passerine species"
20 March 2015
Postdoc Dawn Higginson's new paper in American Naturalist — "Causes of discordance between allometries at and above species level" — uses sophisticated phylogenetic techniques to examine the effect of rapidly evolving developmental trajectories of complex and specialized phenotypes on the long-term evolutionary allometries and tissue trade-offs across 30 species of diving beetles. The study builds on Dawn's previous discoveries of explosive evolutionary diversification in sperm morphology (Evolution, Biol Reviews) and corresponding sex coevolution (PNAS) in this group.
25 March 2015
Erin Morrison is awarded a prestigious 2015 Galileo Circle Scholarship of the College of Science in recognition of her "truly exceptional level of accomplishments in research and teaching". Erin is the Lab's fourth graduate Galileo Fellow.
15 March 2015
Victoria Farrar continues her unprecedented sequence of awards for excellent research. In addition to last month's Leslie N. Goodding Scholar Award, Victoria is now selected by the Department for the 2015 Excellence in Research Award and by the College of Science as a 2015 Galileo Circle Undergraduate Research Scholar (the Lab's third undergraduate Galileo Fellow). This year, the lab will have two Galileo Scholars at the University Galileo Award reception on April 7th.
Alex gives a short interview to the Natural History Museum in London, which also posts the video of the BBC Award reception, featuring this year's famous guests.
21 December 2014
In an early New Year's present, the President signs the RMF Heritage Act permanently protecting iconic Rocky Mountain Front in Montana from oil development that seemed unstoppable just a few months ago. Some of the key players who pushed for the legislature against all odds over the years gather to celebrate. Truly unique area, that consistenly ranks in the upper 1% of North American biological diversity is the site of much of The Lab's field, scientific, and wilderness advocacy efforts for the last 20 years, as well as the center of our two largest ongoing field projects.
Victoria Farrar is 2014 Leslie N. Goodding Scholar! The Award recognizes Victoria's excellence in scholarship and her exceptional research record. The scholarship will support Victoria's Honor Thesis on investigating evolutionary trajectories of complex color phenotypes during population establishment and differentiation. Hear Victoria talk about her earlier biology project on KXCI 91.3FM.