Rebecca E Hale
The goal of my research is to understand variation in parental care by investigating how much variation in care behavior is really adaptive and how much can be explained by non-adaptive (e.g., phylogenetic and physiological) influences. To accomplish this, my work integrates experimentation and modeling to examine the interplay between natural and sexual selection on reproductive behavior. My current research tests the hypothesis that parent-offspring interactions in early development determine selection on parental effort, particularly through the evolution of physiological and developmental processes that determine how offspring fitness changes as a function of parental effort. Through this functional relationship, offspring development and parental effort should coevolve, as these traits reciprocally shape each other’s adaptive landscape. Other aspects of my work focus on refining current models of parental investment, particularly with respect to the hypothesized influence of a brood’s reproductive value on parental effort, and the influence of abiotic conditions on reproductive investment, as mediated through physiology.