I take an integrative approach to study the evolution of complex phenotypes in a variety of animal systems. My work has always had a strong behavioral component; in particular, I have been interested in studying the relationships among physiological variation, locomotor performance, and fitness.
One aim of evolutionary biology is to understand how the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic variation affects trait evolution. The pathway from genotype to fitness is complex; genotypic variation is expressed through development and physiology, which generates and structures phenotypic variation. This phenotypic variation in turn produces variation in performance, ultimately leading to variation in fitness. In my research program, I have studied each step along this pathway, often layering comparative, quantitative genetic, phenotypic engineering, or genetic approaches to address a particular set of questions. The ultimate aim, of course, is to understand how relationships between each step from genotypic variation to fitness shapes trait evolution.
Much of my research has had a strong behavioral component. I have worked on the evolution of mating and foraging strategies in crickets, lizards, tadpoles, and butterflies. My recent work seeks to understand how physiological mechanisms tie together the expression of morphological and behavioral variation in a way that optimizes fitness in a state- and environment-specific manner.
Brigitte Dauwalder, Department of Biology and Biochemistry
University of Houston
Houston TX, 77204-5001, USA