Evolution of Antipredator Coloration
Color has long been the focus of research on phenotypic diversity and trait evolution because of clear fitness benefits for reproduction (sexual selection) and survival (crypsis, aposematism, mimicry). Nonetheless, little is known about how selection and other evolutionary forces promote and maintain variation in color. My research seeks to understand 1) how selection acts upon color in mimicry complexes, 2) the temporal dynamics of color evolution, 3) the genomic basis of color polymorphism and selective dynamics in color pattern genes. We have focused on the evolution of antipredator coloration in squamate reptiles, including the ground snake (Sonora semiannulata), a coral snake mimic with four distinct color morphs. Current research in my laboratory seeks to understand 1) the genomic basis of color patterns in polymorphic organisms, 2) ecological drivers of antipredator coloration, and 3) determining the genomic basis of mimetic traits and dynamics of selection on mimetic loci.