Conceptual schematic of my approach to evolutionary ecomorphology. Inspired by figures from S. Santana and C. Law.
I am interested in understanding how form relates to function, and how their relationship responds to changes in ecology over qontogeny and at evolutionary timescales.
My research typically investigates how jaws and teeth are shaped by prey and how locomotor and adhesive structures change with the demands of the environment.
I take a comparative and integrative approach to my science. I combine experimental methods, high-speed videography, and natural history accounts to characterize animal behavior and ecology. I use high-resolution bio-imaging techniques like CT-scanning
to visualize anatomy and often apply biomechanical models to describe function. Lastly, I use phylogenetic comparative methods to put variation into context and
to better understand how traits change over evolutionary time.
Below are some of my current projects and collaborations.
Salamander Locomotor Biomechanics
Salamanders live in a variety of habitats from water to land to trees. From a functional perspective, what kinds of morphologies and behaviors have they evolved to move between mediums so easily?
Ecomechanics of Biological Suction Cups
Many fishes have evolved adhesive discs made from modified pelvic and pectoral girdles to stick to diverse surfaces. How does disc morphology and performance vary with ecology and phylogeny?
Evolutionary Feeding Biomechanics
Catching and consuming prey are essential for survival, and yet many fishes feed on difficult prey. How does diet shape feeding morphology? Do extreme prey require more specialized traits?
Adaptive Radiation and Convergence
Anole lizards show strong habitat-morphology relationships that have evolved repeatedly on Caribbean islands. Are these patterns repeatable in Central and South America? If so, to what extent?
SegmentGeometry Extension for 3D Slicer
Second moment of area is a measure of how well the cross-section of a beam will resist bending because of its shape.
Many have used it to investigate the mechanical adaptations of biological structures from stingray jaws to animal limb bones.
With the large availability of micro-CT scans, studying the internal geometry of biological structures has become more accessible but we are limited by available software.
I designed the SegmentGeometry extension for 3D Slicer, to iterate slice-by-slice through 3D structures and calculate second moment of area and other cross-sectional properties.
Read more about beam theory and SegmentGeometry in our paper here.
Learn how to install and use SegmentGeometry here.