Origin of the Fittest: Species interactions

Cycles of controls drive evolution
Read more in Nature Communications 10:1596

Origin of the Fittest: Evolutionary transitions

Stress reconciles evolvability and robustness
Read more in Nature Communications 11:3254

Origin of the Fittest: Development

Modular and emergent core processes are regulated
by conserved growth factors in house finch beak development
Read more in Quantitative Genetics in the Wild, pp. 177-189

Origin of the Fittest: Biomechanics

Discovery of a novel way of flying in squirrels illustrates a crucial difference
between human engineering and evolutionary innovations
Read more in bioGraphic (Cal Academy of Sciences) Jan 2017

Origin of the Fittest: Coexistence

Cycles of coexistence with wolves shaped
the legendary versatility of coyotes
Read more in BBC Wildlife 31(3): 46-54

Origin of the Fittest: Natural History

Having evolved when old-growth deciduous forests
covered Arizona deserts, the uniquely arboreal grey fox
is clinging to its ancient adaptations.
Read more: BBC Wildlife 31:62-67

Origin of the Fittest: Species Accounts

Mammals of Montana (2nd ed) wins
The 2012 Honor Book Award

Origin of the Fittest: Genome evolution

Gene loss and the origin of birds
Read more in Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1289: 36-47

Origin of the Fittest: Biodiversity

Our photos on buildings in Tucson's downtown to advocate
protection of biologically unique areas and celebrate bat's annual migration.
Read more in Arizona Magazine (Fall 2016): 61-63

Origin of the Fittest: Structure

Birds prune and streamline the ancestral carotenoid network.
Read more in Biology Direct 10 (45): 1-22

Origin of the Fittest: Adaptation

Empirical test of the Baldwin effect
Read more in Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 364: 1125-1141

Origin of the Fittest: History

Evolving concepts of natural selection and inheritance
Read more in Proc. Roy. Soc. B 278:1921-1929

Origin of the Fittest: The process

Most colorful example of genetic assimilation
Read more in Am. Nat. 190: 266-280

Origin of the Fittest: Biodiversity

The phenomenal recovery of a wilderness icon
Read more in BBC Wildlife Magazine 29 (12): 44-53.

Origin of the Fittest: Mechanisms

Molecular and cytological mechanisms of sex ratio adjustment
Read more in Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 363: 1675-1686.

Origin of the Fittest: Stress

Developmental integration of stress-induced plasticity in shrew jaws
Read more in Am. Nat. 163: 868-879

Origin of the Fittest: Chance and Contingency

Epigenetic resolution of the “curse of complexity”.
Read more in J. Phys. 592: 2251–2260

Origin of the Fittest: Structure

Subsampling of full pre-existing network is a dominant mode of avian carotenoid evolution
Read more in J. evol. Biol.31: 764-772

Origin of the Fittest: Form and Function

Intra-ovarian growth dynamics links sex-determination
and sex-specific resource allocation in birds
Read more in J. Evol. Biol. 21: 449–460

Origin of the Fittest: Life history

Evolutionary transitions in life history, behavior, and morphology
Read more in Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 283 (1831): 201604031289

Origin of the Fittest: Conservation

Bringing the world's largest swan from near-extinction
Read more in National Wildlife 56 (2): 38-42.

Origin of the Fittest: Behavior

Ten-year study addresses centuries-old mystery
Read more in National Wildlife 57(4): 38-42

Origin of the Fittest: Adaptation

Sex-biased hatching order and adaptive population divergence
Read more in Science 295: 316-318.

Origin of the Fittest: Physiology

"Homeostatic hitchhiking" behind the evolution of complex adaptations.
Read more in Integr. Comp. Biol. 53: 913-922.

23 July 2021

After running our LTREB research sites in Montana and Arizona for the last three years, including, most importantly, The Vigilante House Finch site, Sarah Scott - field biologist-extraordinaire - is awarded an NSF grant "Explaining variation in epidemiology of the emergent disease" and joins the lab.

10 February 2021

Two (!) of our photos (1, 2) somehow slipped into the exclusive collection of "200 most memorable pictures from more than six decades of nature photography", alongside some legendary masters, featured in a landmark volume "How Wildlife Photography Became Art" by incomparable Roz Kidman Cox. "These are images that have the power to affect how we feel about the natural world and therefore how we treat it.”" writes Sir David Attenborough. In other photonews, our documentation of the latest recorded mating of grizzly bears along Rocky Mountain Front is out in Montana Outdoors and our photo once again becomes a UBRP Conference poster (our seventh!).

30 January 2021

James Mouton and Renee Duckworth integrate advances in developmental neurobiology and psychiatric pharmacology to show that maternal steroid metabolites have direct neuro-modulatory effects and shape the development of neural circuitry of crucial behavioural traits.

6 December 2020

Sir Ronald Fisher warned us in 1930 that "Natural selection is not evolution", seconded by Prof. George Williams' dictum, in 1966, that “Evolution takes place in spite of natural selection”. So we looked into this and found that both were correct. New paper on contribution of historical continuity vs local optimization to evolution. With Dr. Erin Morrison (NYU). Details to come...

13 October 2020, 20:30 BST

At a spectacular Award Ceremony at Natural History Museum in London, watched live online by 35k international viewers, Alex Badyaev receives a Winner title (his fourth) in Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, for the photo that Chris Packham calls "the first selfie to win the world's most prestigious wildlife photography contest". HRH The Duchess of Cambridge presented the awards, invoking memories from 2014: 1, 2, 3, 4. Coverage in CNN, Newsweek, The Guardian, National Geographic, The Atlantic, Science Focus, GEO, Telegraph, Lonely Planet, Evening Standard, HuffPost, MSN, others).

1 October 2020

Max Gleason is awarded the 2020 Tindall Biodiversity Research Fellowship to study concordance between physical and biological processes guiding transcriptional activity in development. With the main goal to assess "whether morphogenic processes harbor patterns of variability that facilitate species adaptability when environment changes".

26 June 2020

Biological systems famously operate "at the edge of chaos", just inside of regular regime, which enables them to be robust and adaptive at the same time. How these transitions occur is rarely studied, for a good reason. In a new, frightingly massive lab study (nature.com/s41467-020-16938-7), we went looking for the specific mechanisms by which boundaries of adaptations become bridges between them during evolutionary transitions. More here.

15 May 2020

Peeking through the windows of the designated Shelter-in-Place as Sonoran Desert spring rages on. The 2020 Lockdown Gallery is here.

10 May 2020

Ali Shaikh joins the lab to work on processing and analysis of IHC histological images and cell cultures. Having worked at the interface of medical and biological fields, Ali brings much needed skills in histological slide analysis.

10 April 2020

Before SARS-CoV-2 arrived to Tucson, who would have known that our lab people have such amazing scripting skills and technical talents to switfly set up flawless remote data acquisition from the lab equipment and uninterrupted data collection and analyses. Still the lockdown cancelled celebrations of the top awards some of us got this year... If you are missing an uplifting commencement speech, given once before at an Arizona’s university also in the middle of both pandemics and an economic crisis, here is one for you.

16 March 2020

"Every year, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology selects one graduating student with an exceptional record of accomplishments in science for its Outstanding Senior Award. It is our honor to announce that the winner of The 2020 Award is Cody Lee !"

And with that Cody, who, among many other things, has singlehandedly set up the lab’s workflow for the analysis of thousands of complex IHC images across platforms, enabling us to develop antibody protocols in real time, will move to his new position in the Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved Program at MSU.

10 March 2020

A lecture course on "Control Theory in Evolution and Development" at The 2020 Camp Evolution coincides with the Out-Of-Control spring bloom in Israel.

11 February 2020

Our photoessay illustrates Montana Outdoors' feature on successful reintroduction of trumpeter swans across Montana - the program to which the Lab contributed from its beginning in 2005. Members of the previous Cabinet of the United States hang our photo of the First Brood in their White House offices... See "From nameless swamp to the White House in 10 days".
And in other news, Alex is invited to judge the 2020 Golden Turtle Wildlife Festival — "the largest international eco-educational project, bringing together photographers, designers and artists celebrating the beauty of the wildlife."

10 January 2020

Dr. James Mouton joins the lab as G.G. Simpson Postdoctoral Fellow. Having studied avian natural histories across the world , James brings expertise and diverse perspectives on life history evolution. And considerable technical skills to capitalize on the lab's newest UHPLC setup to investigate previously unaccesible endocrine aspects of this evolution. James is the seventh fellow in the George Gaylord Simpson Postdoctoral program.

20 December 2019

An attempt to further develop a new perspective on evolution at IST Winter Colloquium in Vienna, in preparation for lectures at 2020 Camp Evolution in Israel and an upcoming book.

10 October 2019

Omar Puebla – here with his current FRONTERA (Focusing Research on the Border Area) team joins the Lab as a Research Assistant on the NSF's LTREB house finch evolution project. Omar brings an exceptional experience of animal care, most recently with Bio5, and rather unprecedented record of community leadership. To pick just one example, he is the current President of UArizona’s Chapter of Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and represents Arizona’s chapters, nationally and internationally, at SACNAS congresses.

1 October 2019

Kaitlyn Gahl joins the lab as a Lab Manager and Research Specialist. Graduate of universities in both Bozeman and Great Falls and Montana native, Kaitlyn brings with her unique, first-hand familiarity with our numerous study sites across The Last Best Place, as well as advanced lab techniques and field biology skills.

11 October 2019

An extraordinary evening with two Pulitzer Prize winners: Jon Meacham and David Hume Kennerly to mark an acquisition of Kennerly Archive by our Center for Creative Photography. Kennerly's photos define our vision of recent history. Here with three other living legends.

15 July 2019

As a logical culmination of an exceptional fieldwork record ranging from banding Peregrine Falcons in Greenland to researching flycatchers in Arizona Sarah Scott joins the Lab to run NSF LTREB sites in western Montana and, most significantly, The Vigilante House Finch site that celebrated its 25th field season this year.

15 June 2019

The City of Tucson selects our photos to illustrate new "Nature" exhibit in the Visitor Center in the Historic County Downtown Courthouse. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum auctions three of our large format archive prints, including award-winning Midnight Climber, in their 2019 fundraising gala "Sonoran Nights".

1 June 2019

Natural History’s May cover feature on our study of wild evolution of flying squirell's aerodynamics generated enthusiastic correspondence from readers, excerpts from which are now published in the June issue.

30 May 2019

Cody Lee joins the Lab to develop advanced image analysis protocols of gene expression in avian cell cultures. Cody brings top skills and unique blend of expertise in this topic having worked as both imagery analyst for US Air Force (collecting and analyzing multi-sensor imagery and geospatial data in active missions), and, subsequently, as a research assistant in molecular genetics labs, focusing on bacterial gene isolation and amplification.

10 April 2019

"Movements between adaptive zones, caused by changes in external dependencies, should lead to faster evolution, whereas staying within adaptive zones should lead to stasis, for the same reason", thought one of our next-door colleagues at the University of Arizona. So we decided to write a paper (nature.com/2UoRcJ4) to check if he was right and also to reveal the mechanisms that produce these patterns.

1 April 2019

Ahvi Potticary wins both best paper and best poster awards (1 , 2) at Evolution Evolving conference in Cambridge, including for collaboration with the lab on historical scaling of induced adaptation.

21 January 2019

Max Gleason joins the lab to work on a project using IHC to derive cell lineage hierarchies in ongoing adaptive diversifications. Max is a Regent Scholar, a recipient of an outrageous number of Honor Roll awards, and, in his free time, a Historian of the National Honor Society.

16 January 2019

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit travels to the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland to be seen by global top decision-makers during a four-day programme focused on environmental sustainability, highlighed by Dr Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough.

14 January 2019

Our lesser long-nosed bat's "Crossing Theories" piece is the frontpage of Sunday's Arizona Daily Star — the state largest newspaper. This is our fifth (e.g., #4, #3) cover with the newspaper. The original photo is here.

5 December 2018

Fatima Bravo joins the Evolution in the Last Best Place Project as Research Specialist, bringing with her an array of molecular biology skills, as well as experience in their biomedical applications.

1 December 2018

Plenary at Evolution Evolving conference in Cambridge, UK, 1-4 April 2019. Our posters arrived...

5 November 2018

Course "Ecofisiología del Comportamiento Animal" at Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala in Mexico, 18-24 February 2019. Our posters arrived...

20 October 2018

Kimberlie Burns - a former head of the Histology Core Facility at UNC School of Medicine (1989-2018), and an expert on histotechnology of cells growth, immunohistochemistry, and transmission and scanning microscopy joins the Lab as a Research Specialist.

18 October 2018

“A combination of stability and fragility, of rest and motion, of ice-cold geometry and organic grace, of blissful calm and impeding danger - this image recalibrates your senses and makes you pause and think -- says competition's judge and previous winner Alex Badyaev at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year stunning Awards Ceremony in London's Natural History Museum." (From MSNBC, Newsweek, Independent, DCW, DW, others).

10 September 2018

Our finches cover the program of spectacular 2018 Packard Fellows Reunion Conference, including our presentation on the evolutionary cycles of functional controls in metabolic networks.

23 August 2018

Sarah Britton begins her doctoral research in the Lab. Sarah brings with her extensive experience in studies of avian life history evolution, most recently from her Master's thesis at Western Carolina University, as well as a wide-ranging record of outdoor leadership programs from Wyoming to Tanzania.

10 July 2018

The Lab announces availability of 2019 G. G. Simpson Postdoctoral Fellowship -- established to honor Prof. Simpson's work at the department -- to support a productive and creative scientist to work on outstanding evolutionary problems of their own choosing. Details and application are here.

8 July 2018

The City of Missoula installs our new photo and information interpretive signs on Waterworks Hill -- one of the most heavily used trailheads in town. "The new signs communicate the natural and cultural heritage of the area, the conservation history, and the importance of stewardship".

7 July 2018

Adam Welu, whose five-year research tenure in the lab included everything from the study of age-related polymorphism in enzymatic networks to a project on ontogenetic tissue transformation accepts a position in the School of Medicine of Saint Louis University.

5 July 2018

In a new paper postdoc Georgy Semenov shows that extensive combinatorial evolution of plumage in white wagtails coexists with little genetic differentiation.

1 July 2018

The Lab is awarded a new NSF Evolutionary Processes Cluster grant (a.k.a. "Evolution in the Last Best Place Project") to study the evolution of cell lineage hierarchies in ongoing adaptive diversifications.

20 May 2018

Laura Stein, whose undergraduate research in the Lab garnered essentially all known awards at this University, including a delivery of the 2009 Commencement Address, accepts a professor position at the University of Oklahoma, making her the fifth lab undergrad to become an academic faculty.

12 May 2018

Pyrrhuloxia on our cover of the new JEB paper eleganty illustrates the combinatorial nature of avian carotenoid network evolution.

1 May 2018

The Lab is awarded a Major Instrumentation Grant to acquire a state-of-the-art, ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) system – one of the most powerful new tools in analytical chemistry. The machine detects compounds in a parts-per-trillion range, runs x30 faster than a regular HPLC clunking next to it, simultaneously identifies dozens of compounds, and comes with a box of Kimwipes for when PIs get hysterical watching it do in an hour what took a month of hard work before.

28 April 2018

Xander Posner, aka The Master of the Hopcroft-Karp Algorithm scripts for the network controllability projects, begins his graduate research, appropriately in biostatistics and epidemiology, at UC Berkeley.

8 March 2018

Vincent Stannus joins the lab to conduct his Senior Research Project on within-species morphometric transformations of avian eggs. Vince is the fifth Tucson/Oro Valley high school senior to conduct his senior research in the lab.

4 March 2018

A wonderfully intense week of judging Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in London's Natural History Museum, alongside some of the legends in nature photography.

21 February 2018

In a new paper we show that subsampling of preexisting biochemical network is a dominant mode of avian carotenoid evolution over the last 50 million years. The discovery empirically illustrates a fundamental requirement of organismal evolution – historical continuity of past and present functional associations.

9 February 2018

Andrew Vizzerra - a recipient of 2017 President’s Award for Educational Achievement and UA's Excellence Award - joins the Lab to study morphometric consequences of the evolution of egg shell porosity. The project, which is also a part of Caitlin Davey's thesis, is based on the dataset of thousands of samples linked by multigenerational pedigree and spanning one of the largest climatic gradients possible within a species' distribution.

1 February 2018

An award-winning science journalist and writer Emily Voigt writes about our research in The Atlantic's essay on the effects of bird feeders on beak evolution in house finches.

15 January 2018

In a new Evolution paper we characterize the evolution of a  mechanistic link that enables metabolic systems to retain and install  previously adaptive responses - the very basis of dynamic restoration of a phenotype under an environmental change. 589 ornament census photos of  74 free-living house finches whom  we followed very closely from birth to death for this study compose an average male on the cover.

12 January 2018

Alex will present Plenary Lecture "What determines tempo and mode of avian coloration evolution?" at The First Russian Ornithological Congress -- the inagural  congress of its kind to take place  there in the last 25 years.

5 January 2018

The lab will present a synthesis of new ideas on the Control  Theory of Evolution at Santa Fe Institute Workshop "Integrating Inheritance and Development" alongside an exceptional lineup of speakers working in the field .

15 November 2017

For evolution to proceed, the maintenance of a currently adaptive configuration of traits must not preclude the incorporation of innovation in the same traits. In a new paper we propose a novel mechanistic principle that clarifies how local adaptation can be reconciled with continuity of evolution.

10 December 2017

Five Valleys Land Trust presents Kristi DuBois -- western Montana’s non-game biologist -- with our Trumpeters in the Mist plaque during a ceremony marking her retirement after a long career with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Now Kristi shares our trumpeters with both the former US Department of Interior Secretary and US Fish and Wildlife Service Director (1, 2) See "From nameless swamp to the White House in 10 days".

24 October 2017

With this postcard, The Company of Biologists becomes the 4th publisher to advertise its subscription with our photos in the last three years, following The Royal Society/ Proceedings B (avian embryo sucking thumb), ESEB/Journal of Evolutionary Biology (finches on the Moon), and Mountain Press Publishing Company (elk herd in Missions and howling coyote).

15 October 2017

Dr. Jerod Merkle and Dr. Kevin Oh (R) at the 2017 WS Meeting in New Mexico, 13 (!) years since Kevin supervised Jerod's first research project on the Lab's house finch studies in Tucson. Then, onto projects on wolves, bears, bison, and well beyond...

5 October 2017

Postdoc Georgy Semenovand collaborators analyse the genomic and morphological structure of a hybrid zone between White Wagtail subspecies in a new Molecular Ecology paper.

18 September 2017

Alex receives The 2017 College of Science Distinguished Career Teaching Award. The (in)famous ECOL 330: Evolution of Animal Form and Function continues to live up to unrealistically "high expectations of learning, creativity, discussion, and discovery" cited in the 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2018, the course will be significantly restructured.

1 September 2017

Not exactly the lab news, obviously, but exciting that Noam Chomsky — the most cited scholar in history, a founder of several fields in cognitive sciences, whose list of theories has to be alphabetized in biographies — joins our faculty at the University of Arizona. Now instead of getting up at dawn to stay in line with 6,000 others to secure a seat at his lectures on Universal Grammar or the Origin of Language on his previous Tucson visits, one can just walk down the hallway...

26 August 2017

The Lab presented seven papers at the evolution meetings this summer, including work on the evolution of feather microstructure, coevolution of flux and topology in metabolic networks, ontogenetic resolution of the "curse of dimensionality" in beak microevolution, and an invited talk on network controllability at Network Biology symposium at XVI ESEB Congress in Groningen. The ESEB Congress also featured the Plenary Address by Renee Duckworth.

22 August 2017

Alex is invited to judge the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition — "the oldest and most prestigious competition of its kind, attracting tens of thousands of entries from professional and amateur photographers from across the globe". In 2017, he will also continue to judge (for the third consecutive year) The Royal Society Science Photography competition that now attracts several thousands submissions ranging from microimaging to astronomy.

20 August 2017

Melissa Durham joins the Lab to study microevolution of avian carotenoid networks. National Honor Society inductee (for two consecutive years...), Melissa brings with her an unusual combination of background in physics, engineering, and biology.

27 June 2017

A new cover 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 has built an extensive and successful career in business ownership and management.

18 May 2017

Erin Morrison receives The 2017 Outstanding Scholarship Award from the Department AND is named a 2017 Darwin/Wallace Fellow! Jesus...

24 April 2017

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".

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.

19 March 2017

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.

16 May 2017

Genetic assimilation might be ubiquitous in the evolution of diet-dependent animal coloration a new study reports. In Am. Nat. with Ahvi Potticary and Erin Morrison. Summary is here.

5 January 2017

California Academy of Science's bioGraphic publishes our account of the differences between human inventions and evolutionary innovations. The feature, syndicated under everything from "River Nymph takes on Aviation Industry" to Flight Night (Discovery Magazine) to Nightime Acrobatics (Atlas Obscura) describes the evolution of the novel way of flying.

16 May 2017

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.

10 May 2017

Postdoc Georgy Semenov in collaboration with Renee Duckworth, argue in a new Am. Nat. paper that ecological succession is a frequently overlooked, but important context for hybridization.

22 February 2017

Erin Morrison successfully defended her dissertation "Exploring the deterministic landscape of evolution" in front of a standing-room-only audience. Prof. Sergey Gavrilets served as an opponent. Dr. Morrison will now continue her research as a postdoctoral fellow at Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics and American Museum of Natural History in New York.

15 March 2017

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.