My research addresses a variety of topics in ecology and evolution including: evolution of phenotypic plasticity and morphology of grasshoppers, spatial ecology of desert shrubs and rodents, quantitative analysis of bighorn sheep behavior, and molecular evolution of gene families. Phenotypic plasticity, the expression of different phenotypes in different environments, and the integration of plastic traits during development are important aspects of adaptation to variable environments. I study the ecology and evolution of phenotypic plasticity and developmental integration in grasshoppers. There is extensive developmental plasticity and genetic divergence in body, wing, and leg size and shape among populations of the lesser migratory grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes, sampled from mountain meadows and arid grasslands. I am investigating the influence of natural and sexual selection on the evolution of diet- and temperature-induced plastic expression of traits such as morphology, development time, and behavior.
In other research, I collaborate with Dr. L. Walker (UNLV) in studying the recruitment of desert shrubs and the spatial relationships of shrubs, rodent mounds, and islands of soil fertility. I am working with Dr. K. Longshore (USGS) in conducting quantitative analyses of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) behavior and habitat selection using daily position information from GPS radio-collared sheep in several desert mountain ranges. I also collaborate with Dr. J. Shen (UNLV) in studying the molecular evolution of gene families, particularly the WRKY genes, of rice (Oryza sativa).