Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
Ph. D. University of Toronto
Behavioral ecology and evolution; sensory biology and communication; speciation; ecological and evolutionary responses to environmental change; hybridization; biological invasion
I study the ecological factors and evolutionary processes that shape animal communication systems and influence the formation and collapse of species boundaries. I combine behavioral assays with phylogenetics, field-based research, genetic analysis, and manipulative, lab-based experiments to pursue several major research themes including (1) signal evolution, sensory biology, and multimodal communication systems, (2) reproductive isolation and hybridization, and (3) the ecological and evolutionary consequences of rapid, anthropomorphic, environmental change. To date, most of my research has focused primarily on conspicuous visual signaling and sexual behavior of stream fishes. Examples of current projects include (1) the role of sexual selection in biological invasions involving hybridization, (2) the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on sexual communication and reproductive isolation, (3) alternative evolutionary strategies for maximizing conspicuousness in stochastic heterogeneous environments, and (4) understanding the mechanisms and extent to which genetically determined species recognition templates are modulated by environmental (social) factors.
Jessica Ward's website: www.jessicaward.net