I am an evolutionary biologist with primary interests in animal behavior. My research includes the natural history, behavior and ecology of crabs and other intertidal animals; sexual selection; animal communication, particularly courtship and including deception, coercion and harassment; the evolution of mate preferences; reproductive timing by intertidal animals, its patterns and consequences for the survival of eggs and larvae, and predation and predator avoidance behavior. I study the immediate social and ecological consequences of behavior and how they affect individual survival and reproductive success in the field. I believe that the adaptive function of a behavioral trait is best understood through combined study of its design, history, the current contexts in which it is expressed and selected, and the mechanisms that produce it.
About half of my research has been on the reproductive behavior and ecology of fiddler crabs, a highly sexually dimorphic genus with about 100 species. My interests have shifted gradually from how ecological factors and patterns of female choice affect how males compete for mates, to the behavioral mechanisms of mate choice, their basis in selection and their effects on competitive courtship signaling and the evolution of attractiveness. I also have a long-standing interest in the production, dispersal and recruitment of crab larvae. A major goal is to understand the adaptive significance of associations between the timing of larval release, patterns of larval dispersal, sources and patterns of larval mortality, and larval behavior, morphology and color. My research in this area has broadened recently to include reproductive timing by a false limpet in the rocky intertidal zone. Finally, I have become interested in the functional morphology of sexually selected traits including crab claws that function both as weapons and as semaphores and genitalia as they are shaped both for sperm transfer and for signaling during copulatory courtship.