My research interests are in animal behavior and evolution. One particular interest within these is locomotion. I have done behavioral studies on the locomotion of terrestrial gastropods and flatfishes. My research uses invertebrates as well as vertebrates to answer one of the fundamental questions about animals: why do they do what they do?
Escape Response in Zebrafish
McHenry Lab, UCI
Currently, I am examining the escape response in zebrafish. I am examining how zebrafish change their escape response when presented with different visual looming stimuli or impulse flow stimuli.
Burial in Flatfish
Summers Lab, Friday Harbor Laboratories
In this project I examined the burial behavior of different species of flatfish in the Pacific Northwest. I used high speed video and physical models to explain aspects of flatfish burial. The high speed video to the right is an example of a flatfish burying. This research has been published in the journal Zoology.
Crepidula onyx larva with ten 20μm plastic beads in its gut.
Terrestrial Gastropod Locomotion
Pernet Lab, CSU Long Beach
In this project, I examined an alternative form of gastropod locomotion called "loping". In this form of locomotion, the snail lifts up its head, protrudes it forward, and places it back down on the substrate leaving a gap underneath its body. The snail then crawls over this gap, never touching the substrate beneath it. A snail may have many of these gaps under its body at a time which leaves a dotted mucus trail as seen in the figure to the right. My research determined that terrestrial gastropods may use loping as a way to conserve mucus while on absorbent substrates. This research was published in Biological Bulletin.
Lepidopsetta bilineata (rock sole) burying, filmed at 250 frames per second.
Feeding Behaviors in Larval Marine Invertebrates
Pernet Lab, CSU Long Beach
In this project, I examined the abilities of different larval marine invertebrates to feed on different sized particles. I raised larva from the same brood and let them eat plastic beads of different sizes (from 0.45μm to 30μm in diameter) for ten minutes. I then counted how many beads they had eaten. This experiment was repeated at three ages of larva. I tested Crepidula onyx (a snail) larvae and Mytilus galloprovincialis (mussel) larvae. Other larval species were examined by other researchers in the lab.
The Effect of Inbreeding on Mate Choice in Drosophila
Carter Lab, CSU Long Beach
In this project, I examined how low levels of inbreeding (one generation of sibling matings) that may be found in nature, effect female mate choice in two species of the fruit fly Drosophila. I compared the mate choices of inbred and outbred females which were presented with outbred and inbred males. I found that outbred females had a slight preference for outbred males, but that inbred females showed no preference at all. This suggests that inbred females may not be able to discriminate between inbred and outbred males. This research was published in the Journal of Insect Behavior.
A.) Cornu aspersa adhesive crawling. B.) C. aspersa loping. C.) Dotted trail left behind a loping snail. (from McKee et. al. 2013).