Dr. Wilkinson conducts research on the evolution of social behavior, with emphasis on how genetic mechanisms may influence the outcome of evolution. Recent research in the lab addresses several controversial topics in animal behavior: sexual selection, genomic conflict, cooperation and communication. Stalk-eyed flies are being used as a model system for studying the evolution of sexually selected traits. Our recent empirical and theoretical results have surprisingly implicated meiotic drive as a potent evolutionary agent which can catalyze sexual selection. Using quantitative trait locus studies we have recently confirmed the prediction that sex-linked genes that influence a sexually selected trait are linked to genes causing sex chromosome meiotic drive. In addition, crosses between SE Asian populations are being conducted to determine if sex chromosome meiotic drive is involved in speciation. We are also using microarrays to find candidate genes involved in elongation of eyestalks. Bats in the neotropics and in the US are being studied in the lab and field to understand how communication mediates cooperation and social learning.

Animals: Bats

wilkinson [at] umd.edu