My research focuses on understanding the behaviors and signaling mechanisms underlying intra and interspecific ecological interactions, and how they influence patterns of species diversity and diversification. My approach typically combines behavioral experiments, analysis of chemical and visual phenotypes, and comparative phylogenetic analyses. This integrative approach allows me first to identify signals and elucidate selective forces shaping their evolution (e.g. natural or sexual selection) and second, to formulate hypotheses about the strength and direction of particular interactions (e.g. antagonistic or cooperative) that can be evaluated with further behavioral tests. I also study which intraspecific signals influence interspecific interactions, which is necessary for investigating the impact of communication on species coexistence (e.g. through communication interference or eavesdropping) and diversification (e.g. reproductive character displacement).
I am broadly interested in:
The evolution of antiaphrodisiac pheromones in butterflies. Does sexual selection influence the evolution of antiaphrodisiac pheromones? How do the complex chemical mixtures change in females over time and what information these changes confer to males? How do antiaphrodisiac pheromones contribute to species recognition? How do antiaphrodisiac pheromones contribute to assess male quality?
Signaling mechanisms during precopulatory mate guarding (pupal mating) in Heliconius. What are the cues that Heliconius males use to find and recognize conspecific female pupae? Is there a fitness costs to females due to coercive mating during pupal mating?
The conflict between mimicry and species recognition.Is there a fitness costs due to interspecific attraction among co-mimic species? How does interspecific attraction among co-mimic species influence the assemblages of species in mimicry rings?
Eavesdropping on chemical signals by parasitoid wasps. What is the importance of plant volatiles and antiaphrodisiac pheromones as host searching cues by egg parasitoid wasp? Work with Nina E. Fatouros and Ties Huigens, Wageningen University.