Welcome to the Walsh Lab
Walsh Lab News
PhD students Kaitlyn Howell and Shannon Beston, recently conducted field work in Arima, Trinidad.
They spent five weeks during November and December 2018 investigating the evolution of brain and eye size in the killifish, Rivulus hartii. They conducted multiple experiments to answer two questions: 1) “Does a larger brain size increase the propensity forRivulus to disperse?” & 2) “What mechanisms underlie eye size evolution in Rivulus?”
1) A larger brain is thought to have evolved to buffer animals from changing or novel environments through behavioral flexibility. Howell conducted a mark-recapture dispersal experiment as one of several experiments investigating this hypothesis. For this specific experiment, she compared brain size and movement. She predicted that fish with larger brains would move more in the stream.
2) Beston performed two mesocosm competition experiments to answer this question. She has previously shown a relationship between growth and eye size in fish from sites without predators, but not in sites with predators. Because Rivulus are under intense competition in sites without predators, she hypothesized the Rivulus with larger eyes from these sites would be better competitors.
Bythotrephes longimanus collection - Madison Wisconsin
Dr. Matthew Walsh, our new Post Doc Dr. Alex Landry and grad candidate Michelle Packer collected Bythotrephes longimanus from lakes Waubesa and Mendota for use in resurrection experiments which will investigate the effects of an introduced, invasive predator on Daphnia behavior. This work is supported by an NSF CAREER grant: Does behavioral plasticity promote or constrain adaptation? A test using resurrection.
PhD candidate Michelle Packer presented at the Second Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier, France
Michelle presented her latest results from her dissertation research, which tests the connection between phenotypic plasticity and the rate of adaptation, in the symposium "Role of phenotypic plasticity in evolution: Where are we now?".
Sara Stearns presenting at ESA 2018
August 8, 2018
We are very excited for Walsh Lab undergraduate, Sara Stearns! She presented a poster at @ESA_org in New Orleans using data from her Undergraduate Research class. Congratulations Sara!
Kaityln Howell receives Phi Sigma Research Grant: 'Testing the Phenotypic Traits that predict Persistence in Novel Environments
Walsh lab PhD student, Kaitlyn Howell, recently received a Phi Sigma Research Grant: 'Testing the Phenotypic Traits that predict Persistence in Novel Environments'. This grant will fund field work in Trinidad to determine if increased brain size improves survival in novel environments. This work will contribute to Kaitlyn's dissertation and overall investigation of the drivers of brain size evolution in the wild.
Sediment Coring - Madison, WI
Dr. Matthew Walsh, Post-Doc Dr. Jared Goos, and Ph.D. candidate Michelle Packer met up with Mark Shapley from LacCore to complete sediment coring in iced-over lakes as part of a new project. This is the first step in investigating plasticity's role in evolution under Dr. Matthew R. Walsh's new CAREER grant: "Does behavioral plasticity promote or constrain adaptation? A test using resurrection". Cores will be dated using Pb-210 to help isolate Daphnia from resting-eggs in sediments that predate invasion of the lakes by Bythotrephes longimanus. Hatched clones will be compared with Daphnia from contemporary populations, looking for differences in plasticity and evolved behavioral traits.
We are excited to be welcoming Dr. Michael (Michi) Tobler to speak as part of the UTA Department of Biology 2018 Colloquium Series.
February 22, 2018
Dr. Michael (Michi) Tobler
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
Dr. Tobler is an evolutionary biologist addressing fundamental questions about the origins of functional trait diversity and speciation. Specifically, he is using extremophile, live-bearing fishes to determine how genetic, ecological and functional factors result in convergence at macroevolutionary scales, and testing when and why evolutionary change is repeatable and predictable. His talk will be titled "Extreme Environments, physiological adaptation, and the origin of species".
Dr. Yoel Stuart joined us to speak at the UTA Department of Biology Fall 2017 Colloquium Series.
October 19, 2017
Dr. Yoel Stuart
Department of Integrative Biology
University of Texas at Austin
Yoel's lecture was titled "Parallel evolution is a continuum. Case studies in anoles and stickleback".
Matt Walsh wins NSF Career Grant to study effects of predators on the evolution of Daphnia.
Congratulations to our awesome PI and advisor for being awarded a five-year, $600,000 grant from the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. The project is titled “CAREER: Does behavioral plasticity promote or constrain adaptation? A test using resurrection.”
Members of the Walsh Lab gave presentations at Evolution 2017 Confernce in Portland, Or.
Investigations into Eye-Brain size in Killifish - Winter Field Season 2016
Over winter break PhD candidate Shannon Beston, undergrad lab alum Kaitlyn Howell, and Dr. Walsh returned to Trinidad to determine how selection on eye size and brain size is operating in natural populations of Trinidadian killifish Rivulus hartii. Recent work by Beston and Walsh has shown that both brain size and eye size decrease significantly in sites with high rates of predator induced mortality. To begin to address why predators are associated with smaller brains and eyes, the three executed a short term mark-recapture experiment to evaluate survival and growth rate as a function of eye size and brain size. As an added bonus, the Walsh Lab now has 130+ live Rivulus that will be used for a variety of laboratory experiments. Stay tuned for some exciting results!
Lab: Life Sciences B02
Lab Phone: 817-272-9079
University of Texas Arlington
501 S Nedderman Dr