Graduate students within the lab explore a varieity of topics including neuroethology, behavioral ecology, animal communication, and sexual selection. If you are interested in seeking a graduate position in the lab, please contact Dr. Cummings and visit the Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior website.
I’m interested in the evolution of diversity at both the macro- and microevolutionary scale. At the macroevolutionary scale, I use comparative phlogenetic methods to investigate the evolution of morphological and taxonomic diversity, working predominantly with marine fish and snakes. I have also taken an interest in the theoretical side of comparative phylogenetics, and have looked at the effect that different sampling biases can have on some standard phylogenetic diversification statistics. At the microevolutionary scale, my work has focused on the evolution of male color and female preference in populations of three-spine stickleback from Vancouver Island, BC. In particular, I’m interested in how both biotic (e.g. diet, parasites, etc.) and abiotic (e.g. light environment) factors may impact the evolution of male nuptial color.
2006 B.S. Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
2009 M.S. Zoology, Washington State University
Ramsey ME, Maginnis TL, Wong RY, Brock C, Cummings ME. 2012 (In Press). Identifying context-specific gene profiles of social, reproductive and mate preference behavior in a fish species with female mate choice. Frontiers in Neurogenomics.
Alamillo H, Brock CD, Alfaro MW, Harmon LJ (Submitted). Red Queens, Court Jesters, and Snake Biodiversity: Tests of Ophidian Macroevolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.
Brock CD, Donabauer A, Dornburg A, Alfaro ME. (In prep) Rockfish of ages: Temporal and geographic patterns of diversification in Sebastes rockfish.
Brock CD, Harmon LJ, Alfaro ME. 2011. Testing for Temporal Variation in Diversification Rates When Sampling is Incomplete and Nonrandom. Systematic Biology 60:410-419.
Alfaro ME, Santini F, Brock CD, Alamillo H, Dornburg A, Harmon LJ. 2009. Nine exceptional radiatons plus high turnoever explains species diversity in jawed vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106(32): 13410-13414.
Alfaro ME, Santini F, Brock CD. 2007. Do reefs drive diversification in marine teleosts? Evidence from the pufferfishes and their allies. Evolution 61(9): 2104-2126.
Alfaro ME, Karns DR, Voris HK, Brock CD, Stuart BL. 2007. Phylogeny and evolutionary history of Oriental-Australian rear-fanged water snakes (Colubridae:Homalopsidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46: 576-593.
Dornburg A, Brock CD, Weaver R. 2007. Pseudacris pacifica. Herpetological Review 38(1):99.
Harmon, L.J., Wier, J., Brock, C., Glor, R.E., and Challenger, W. 2007. Geiger: A statistical package for investigating evolutionary radiations in a comparative context. Bioinformatics 24:129-131.
Degnan, P.H., A.B. Lazarus, C.D. Brock and J.J. Wernegreen. 2004. Host-symbiont stability and fast evolutionary rates in an ant-bacterium association: Cospeciation of Camponotus species and their endosymbionts, Candidatus Blochmannia. Systematic Biology 53:95-110.
My interests span a broad range of biological topics, from behavioral ecology to endocrinology to conservation to evolution. My dissertation project looks at the evolution of communication systems, particularly warning coloration. I am currently investigating the color and brightness evolution in the highly polymorphic populations of the strawberry poison frog (Dendrobates pumilio) in the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama.
See my website for more information.
2005 B.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Santa Cruz
2005 B.A. Psychology, University of California at Santa Cruz
Cummings ME & Crothers LR. 2013. Interacting selection diversifies warning signals in a polytypic frog: an examination with the strawberry poison frog. Evolutionary Ecology 27: 693-710. [PDF]
Crothers LC & Cummings ME. 2013. Warning signal brightness variation: sexual selection may work under the radar of natural selection in populations of a polytypic poison frog. The Ameican Naturalist 181(5): E116-E124. doi: 10.1086/670010. [PDF]
Crothers L, Gering EJ, Cummings ME. 2011. Aposematic signal variation predicts male-male interactions in a polymorphic poison frog. Evolution 65:599-605.
I am interested generally in behavioral ecology and sexual selection, with current focus on how animals' sensory ecology has influenced the evolution of their sexual communication and signaling. My undergraduate thesis and masters work focus on the use of plane polarized light in teleost communication, first in a mate-choice context in swordtails (Xiphophorus nigrensis) and currently in territorial displays in the protogynous grouper Epinephelus adscensionis. For my polarized light work I use methods combining behavioral trials, video polarimetry and polarized signal quantification, and I am planning to involve polarized microscopy in my grouper work to look for the mechanism of polarized vision.
2010 B.S. Biology with Honors Thesis, University of Texas at Austin
2006 B.A. Plan II Honors Program, The University of Texas at Austin
My Interests:I am interested in both the history and mechanism of social behavior, as well as its contribution to species divergence. I examined genetic and environmental effect on aggressive strategies of fruit flies for my bachelor's honor thesis. My master’s thesis is primarily driven by the mystery of the evolutionary origin of female preference and male sexually selected traits in Poeciliidae (the livebearers). I integrate behavior ecology, neurogenomics and statistical modeling to resolve the puzzles.
2011 H.B.S. Applied Statistics, University of Toronto
2011 H.B.S. Behavior, Genetics & Neurobiology, University of Toronto
Humans alter the environment in a myriad of ways. Characterizing how animals respond to these rapid shifts in the environment is a continuing goal for evolutionary biologists, conservationists, and ethologists. I'm interested in how animals recognize each other and choose mates when there are rapid changes to the signaling environment. I use sailfin mollies to study both plastic and evolutionary behavioral changes the accompany environmental change, and I am particularly interested in the interaction between olfaction and vision communication.
2012 B.S. Biology with Honors, the College of William and Mary
Reding LP, Swaddle JP, Murphy HA. 2013. Sexual selection hinders adaptation in experimental populations of yeast. Biology Letters 9(3): 20121202