Research Interests Overview

Coot Feeds Chick

We seek to understand the ecological and evolutionary basis of reproductive strategies and social behavior in animals, particularly reproductive parasitism, parental care and mating systems. One focus is to understand patterns of cooperation and reproductive parasitism in birds and insects. Many putative cooperative social systems show striking similarities with apparently parasitic reproductive tactics, suggesting both evolutionary and behavioral links between cooperation and parasitism. We are interested in understanding these links and identifying the ecological and social factors that promote parasitic versus cooperative reproductive behaviors. Communication through social signals is an important aspect of social evolution, and a second research interest is to understand the evolutionary dynamics of these signals and, in particular, determine the degree to which social signals are cooperative versus deceptive.