We work on a range of different topics on the evolution and ecology of marine organisms.
Some of us are interested in traditional marine ecology whereas others are evolutionary biologists who happen to work on marine critters.
Our lab has two main questions of interest:
- What are the causes and consequences of links between life-history stages in marine invertebrates?
- Does sexual selection play a role in the reproductive strategies of marine free-spawners?
Why we work on marine invertebrates
From a certain perspective, the majority of animals in the sea are decidedly uncool. Mostly, they don’t have cute little faces, can’t go for help when the boat sinks and aren’t particularly tasty. However, they are some of the most abundant animals on the planet which means that they have evolved all sorts of amazing traits and are very easy to work on.
That’s why we’re interested in marine invertebrates such as bryozoans, ascidians and echinoderms. More specifically, we are interested in using these animals to address fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions. For example, if you have only a limited amount of resources for reproduction, should you produce a lot of little offspring or just a few, big offspring? Which sex should be the most choosy and what determines an organism’s choice of mate? These questions could be answered using elephants or rhinoceros but this would take longer, be very expensive and would inevitably involve some goring. Because of these and goring-unrelated reasons, we answer these questions using marine invertebrates. Fortunately, marine invertebrates turn out to an ideal group to examine some questions that ecologists have been interested in for quite some time.