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: 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: 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: Conservation

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

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 Proc. Roy. Soc. In review

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: 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: 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: 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: Physiology

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

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 and test a novel mechanistic principle that clarifies how local adaptation can be reconciled with continuity of evolution.

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 Semenov and 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

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". 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.

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.

13 November 2016

Lab's alumni Louise Misztal, now an Executive Director of Sky Island Alliance, upgrading in the process from chasing finches to chasing jaguars, has been recognized by the 2016 Tucson's "40 under 40" award. Here is Louise (with Kevin Oh) in even younger "under 30" version.

13 November 2016

"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.

18 May 2016

Postdoc Dawn Higginson publishes another cover paper in Proceeding Royal Society B in which she argues that "Coevolution of metabolic modification and selective expression enables the use of unstable pigments in long-term evolutionary trends". The study examines evolutionary transitions between avian strategies to stabilize fast-degrading dietary carotenoids and is co-authored by another postdoc Virginia Belloni, two honor students -- Emmet Andrews and Sarah Davis, as well as doctoral student Erin Morrison.

5 November 2016

Alex gave a talk at the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity (HCEO) Global Working Group conference in the University of Chicago, learning an exceptional amount from a great lineup of speakers.

15 June 2016

Erin Morrison's analysis of more than 250 species, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, examines the correspondence between opportunities for diversification and realized diversity in biochemical networks, uncovering "significant structural determinism in phenotypic evolution."

27 October 2016

Alex presented "Lighting the pathway: Photographing as learning and exploring" at the 2016 International Nature Photography Festival in Germany, once again (and again), speaking alongside some of the legends in nature photography.

25 June 2016

Our study species is an undisputed highlight of the election cycle. House finch female. Portland, Oregon

1 July 2016

 "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).

1 May 2016

Matt brings his interest in developmental genetics to a set of projects on the evolution of biochemical determinants in color evolution.

1 May 2016

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).

1 February 2016

Network topology and flux at 2016 SICB and the 27th UBRP conferences. Erin Morrison discussed "Landscapes of Evolution" at Evolutionary Endocrinology symposium at 2016 SICB ConferenceEmmet Andrews talked about "Correspondence between static and dynamic properties in a biochemical network" in evolution of sexual dichromatism.. Sarah Davis presented her project "Origin of novel color phenotypes: Contribution of static and dynamic properties of biochemical networks" examining the contribution of metabolic network topology and flux to ongoing population differentiation. And Emmet Andrews writes about his research project in the lab for the UA's UBRP Gazette.

20 December 2015

Judging The Royal Society competition. The Royal Society celebrated its 350th of scientific publishing with inaugural competition of science photography. The winners were announced at a ceremony at the Royal Society in London on 26th of November with the coverage in Science, BBC, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, Resource Magazine, International Business Times, LiveScience, Coveted Magazine, DDN, and many others.

10 January 2016

New, authoritative Mammals of Wyoming (456 pp) comes out with our cover and some of the species accounts.

10 December 2015

Wildscreen announces its "New Horizons in Natural World Storytelling Festival" in Bristol with our window posters and invitation cards.

6 November 2015

"Islands in the Sea of Possibilities: Making sense of biological diversity in the era of genomics" is a Banquet Keynote Alex delivered at The 2015 NBRE/NIH (Network of Biomedical Research Excellence/ National Institute of Health) Conference. UPD: Some photos from the banquet lecture (1, 2, 3, 4)

25 August 2015

"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.

20 September 2015

Our best photographic work to date — of a Catalina Mountains' Starlight Hunter — becomes a pretty cool poster of The 2016 UBRP Conference.

15 July 2015

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). 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.

1 August 2015

Our cover of July's American Journal of Botany features Mike Sanderson's discovery that the giant saguaro has the smallest plasmid genome.

1 July 2015

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.

15 March 2015

Postdoc Virginia Belloni collaborates with the Duckworth Lab to publish "Cycles of species replacement emerge from locally induced maternal effects" in Science.

10 March 2015

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.

20 December 2014

PhotoWorld — the leading photography and art magazine in China — publishes our six-page "Art of Seeing" essay (+ there's this month's short interview in Photography Monthly and 24 Best Photos of the Year from Digital Camera World.

10 December 2014

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.

29 October 2014

A truly enchanted image that tells a complete story in a single frame.The lighting is as delicate as the setting; outcompeting tens of thousands of entries this year and trumping tigers, gorillas, elephants, cougars and other big charismatic animals here is a little mouse... ” said legendary National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting in his introduction of the award. In 2014, the panel of international jury evaluated more than 42,000 entries from 96 countries. This is Alex Badyaev's third Winner title in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions.

29 October 2014

The Awards, celebrating the 50th year of the world’s largest and most prestigious nature photography competition, were presented by legendary BBC natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough and Her Royal Highness Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, at a black tie gala ceremony in London’s Natural History Museum. Prior to the Award ceremony, Badyaev was selected to accompany The Duchess of Cambridge as she viewed and discussed the 50th BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit."

8 September 2014

Cover of the new, excellent The Genetics and Biology of Sexual Conflict by William Rice and Sergey Gavrilets features both female choice and male competition in a single frame.

10 September 2014

Our photo is the cover of the The 2014 Wildlife Photographer of the YearAlbum (Finland edition). Another photo (also here) is featured alongside classic and impossibly stunning images, in the "50 Years of Wildlife Photography in 200 images: How photography became art" published by BBC and the National History Museum.