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See also: Professor Moczek's homepage
My lab addresses a fundamental question in biology: how do novel phenotypic traits originate and diversify in nature? We use a wide range of approaches to address this question from different perspectives and on different levels of biological organization. We use behavioral and ecological approaches in the lab and field on experimental and natural populations to understand when and how ecological processes can drive phenotypic evolution. We employ a wide range of developmental techniques and growth manipulations to address physiological mechanisms of phenotype formation and evolution. Lastly, we rely on an increasing diversity of developmental genetic and molecular tools (in-situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, EST libraries, RNAinterference) to investigate the genetic and genomic regulation of phenotype expression and diversification. While each of these approaches has provided valuable insights, it has been most of all the integration across these levels of analyses that has proven most informing and fascinating. Our study organisms have been primarily beetles in the genus Onthophagus. We have also begun begun to address related questions in other organisms, in particular ants and termites, and are open to add additional organisms to our repertoire.