SICB Division of Vertebrate Morphology (DVM)

DVM Researchers Database Entry

Evolutionary Morphology
I am broadly interested in the evolution of feeding behaviors of elongate ectothermic vertebrates. I study feeding behavior using tools and techniques from functional morphology, physiology, and animal behavior. Using these different approaches enables me to collect morphological, physiological, and behavioral data of functional relevance and to explore structural and physiological variation within a comparative phylogenetic framework. One of my long term interests is understanding the characters underlying variation in constriction behaviors in snakes. Constriction behavior is a prey restraint method in which a snake wraps its body around a prey. This fascinating behavior varies substantially across the alethenophidia (most advanced snakes) and we have yet to clearly identify the source(s) of this variation. My current focus is understanding how feeding mode shapes cranial diversity in elongate fishes. One large group of fishes that I have been studying is the Anguilliformes. Anguilliformes, 'true eels,' are an amazingly diverse group in terms of their cranial design and their axial skeleton. In collaboration with Dr. Peter Wainwright (U.C. Davis) and Dr. Mike Alfaro (U.C.L.A), I am testing how feeding mode affects the rate of morphological and mechanical diversity across the anguilliformes.