Local adaptation of colouration


Animal colouration evolves under the influence of many different (and often competing) selection pressures, which include the visual characteristics of the environment as well as the visual systems of predators and conspecifics.  The balance between these different pressures varies spatially and temporally as animals utilise different microhabitats, perform different behaviours, or interact with different (heterospecific or conspecific) individuals.

I am working with three study systems with intraspecific colour variation:

      1.   Transparency in glassfrogs (Centrolenidae)

      2.   Polymorphic camouflage in Rhinella cf. margaritifera (Bufonidae)

      3.   Polymorphic aposematism in Oophaga pumilio (Dendrobatidae)

Optimisation of conspicuousness


Defended prey often use bright conspicuous patterns to warn potential predators.

However, naive, specialised, or desperate predators may ignore a warning, I am interested in how animals balance the benefits of salient signalling (aposematism) with the benefits of a low predator encounter rate (camouflage).

I am using field behavioural ecology, laboratory psychophysics, and computational visual modelling, to investigate how saliency changes at different distances and how this affects survival under natural conditions.

I am studying two model systems where saliency changes in different contexts:

      1.   Distance dependent signalling in Dendrobates tinctorius (Dendrobatidae)

      2.   Pattern-blending in Tyria jacobaeae (Erebidae)

Amphibian ecology & conservation


I am interested in applying behavioural and ecological research to practical conservation initiatives, and in particular to amphibians.


I have worked on amphibian abundance in current and former oil palm plantations in Peninsular Malaysia, and in Fortuna,  Panama, where chytrid (Bd) has resulted in large scale amphibian declines. 


I am interested in how disturbances to natural systems can affect the visual ecology of predator-prey dynamics, and I am currently working with the Fowler's toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario, Canada (where it is an endangered species).

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University

1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8, Canada

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