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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Biological Sciences

Faculty & Staff

Assistant Professor

Robin Tinghitella

Robin Tinghitella  

Office: BW 243

Office Phone: (303) 871-3658

email: robin.tinghitella@du.edu

Tinghitella lab webpage

DEGREES

  • 2002 - BS Biology - University of Portland
  • 2008 - PhD Biology - University of California-Riverside

RESEARCH INTERESTS

For most of the last century and a half, evolution was assumed to happen over large time scales, but more recently attention has been given to cases of very rapid adaptive evolution in natural populations. My work centers on the roles of ecology and behavior in rapid evolution. I work with real organisms in their real habitats, and also use laboratory experimentation, phylogenetics, and hormone analyses to understand the forces that shape diversity in animal communication and social systems. These questions are particularly timely because rampant anthropogenic influences, ranging from unintentional introductions to harvesting and climate change, challenge organisms by changing the ecosystems in which they live. How are these changes accommodated on contemporary timescales?

I focus my attention on interactions between the sexes, endeavoring to understand the origin and maintenance of variation in sexual signaling and mate choice. Most research on sexual selection emphasizes the exaggeration of male signals and very strong female preferences for those signals. Both of these should reduce diversity in sexual signaling systems resulting in one biggest, best male signal. Yet, mating signals are extremely diverse. We are challenged, then, to explain the origin and maintenance of variation in these systems. Within the broad framework of behavior and rapid evolution, I address three areas: 1) The manner in which opposing selection pressures, ecology and non-adaptive processes shape animal communication systems, 2) The paradoxical loss of sexual signals, and 3) Implications of behavioral variation, including plasticity, for rapid evolutionary change, including speciation and population extinction.

Link to Tinghitella's publications (.pdf)