In the Larson Lab, we want to understand the origins of species diversity and how evolutionary forces drive speciation. The evolution of reproductive traits is central to this process. Males and females interact in diverse ways, both before and after mating. They also interact at different organizational levels—as individuals, gametes, sex chromosomes, and genes that have evolved male and female-biased functions. The evolution of reproductive traits is at once cooperative and antagonistic. Individuals have to be able to reproduce, but males and females can have conflicting interests. We study how sexual selection and genomic conflict shape the evolution of reproduction, and how divergence in these key reproductive traits contribute to speciation.

 
 

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constraint and conflict of sex

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How organisms produce gametes is conserved at its most basic level -individuals have to be able to mate. Yet reproductive traits, such as the shape of a sperm are incredibly diverse. We want to understand how reproductive traits like sperm evolve, and how that evolution contributes to speciation.

Windows on speciation

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Hybrid zones are windows on evolutionary process - allowing us to link understand how closely related species interact, and pinpoint regions of the genome that may be involved in speciation. 

Evolution of Cryptic female choice

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These leaf beetles are the most promiscuous insect known. Yet, females have evolved "choosiness" that allows them to avoid having offspring with undesirable males. We use these beetles to explore the female side of reproduction. Photo credit: A. Jaszlics