Research Interests

I study fluctuating asymmetry, developmental instability, hybrid zones, and population and community ecology. Collaborators include Carl Freeman (Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan), John Emlen (USGS, Western Fisheries Center, Seattle, Washington), Jeff Duda (USGS, Western Fisheries Center, Seattle, Washington), Carl Ostberg (USGS, Western Fisheries Center, Seattle, Washington),  Vladimir Zakharov (Koltzov Institute, Moscow, Russia),  Larry Leamy (University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC), Jules Kieser (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand), Dmitri Lajus (Saint Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia), Alexander Kozhara (Inland Fisheries Institute, Yaroslavl Province, Russia), Kunio Shimizu (Keio University, Japan), Tony Krzysik (Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona), Durant McArthur (National Forest Service, Provo, Utah), Shmuel Raz, Eviatar Nevo, and Hagit Hel-Or (University of Haifa, Israel), Baris Özener (University of Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey), Esther de Bruin (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands), and several Berry College students and faculty.My current research includes the theory and practical application of developmental stability and fluctuating asymmetry in evolutionary biology and ecotoxicology .  I’ve worked with fish, birds, plants, insects, and snails, and have introduced new concepts (i.e. developmental invariance), new measures of developmental instability, and a comprehensive theory that includes error models, non-linear dynamics, and the basis of fluctuating and directional asymmetry (handedness).

I am also interested in hybrid zones, and have worked with bluespotted and banded sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus and E. obesus), Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted Flickers ( Colaptes auratus auratus and C. a. cafer), and basin and mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata tridentata and A. t. vaseyana ).  I have worked on the big sagebrush hybrid zone continuously since 1989,  in collaboration with Carl Freeman, Durant McArthur, and their students and colleagues.  We have tested hybrid zone theory in reciprocal transplant gardens that span the hybrid zone at Salt Creek, Utah.  Hybrids have highest fitness, but only in the hybrid garden.  This offers strong support for the bounded hybrid superiority model.  Additional studies in the transplant gardens have included insect-plant interactions, developmental stability, respiration, water potential, soils, and nutrient uptake.

I have studied the distinctive fish communities of the New Jersey Pine Barrens , a region of acidic blackwaters.  Fishes in these communities are adapted to ecosystems that are dominated by aquatic macrophytes.  Planktivory is a losing strategy in blackwaters.

I am presently working on two projects: (1) RNA interference of various genes suspected of influencing developmental instability in Drosophila melanogaster, and (2) the use of continuous symmetry measures to estimate fluctuating asymmetry of plant leaves.

Last modified 5 August 2015