integrative organismal biology in a changing world
causes and consequences of sociality
environmental uncertainty and animal societies. Work in cooperatively breeding starlings, weavers, wasps and burying beetles examines how unpredictable climate variation influences social evolution.
evolutionary transitions in social organization. We are examining the evolution of social diversity in snapping shrimps, gobies, and birds by quantifying life history variation and exploring the key evolutionary transitions among social states.
genetic and neural mechanisms of social behavior. We are studying the mechanistic bases of caste differentiation, social phenotypes, and social decision making in snapping shrimps, burying beetles, and Egernia lizards by examining role- and population-specific patterns of gene expression, signatures of genetic and epigenetic variation, structural variants, and brain architecture.
phenotypic consequences of social living. We are studying how inter- and intra-sexual competition influence the evolution of social signaling (song and plumage) and patterns of sexual dimorphism in starlings and hummingbirds.
genotypic consequences of social living. We are examining how social living influences the evolution of genome structure by studying the relationships among social organization, genome size, and transposable element accumulation in snapping shrimps using population genetic and historical demographic approaches.
cooperation and ecological dominance. We are exploring how cooperative behavior in birds, burying beetles, and snapping shrimps influences competitive ability against conspecifics, niche breadth and range expansion, ecological generalism vs. specialism, and ecological dominance.
behavioral, physiological and molecular adaptations to global change
adaptation along environmental gradients. We are examining stress physiology, immune function, color evolution, and patterns of genetic and epigenetic variation in different populations of starlings along temperature and precipitation gradients in the tropics.
a framework for environmental coping. Using game theory and comparative analyses we are exploring the evolution of strategies to cope with environmental uncertainty. We are also developing a theoretical framework that predicts evolutionary responses to environmentally-driven fluctuating selection, and using it to explore the evolution of physiological coping mechanisms, as well as their genetic and epigenetic architectures.
epigenetics, plasticity and environmental variation. We are examining how developmental conditions (both social and environmental) influence social phenotypes, stress physiology, and fitness later in life, and we are exploring DNA methylation as one potential mechanism underlying this relationship in starlings. Although we emphasize the stress axis, we also look globally at patterns of DNA methylation across the genome.
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
10th Floor Schermerhorn Extension, MC5557
1200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
Office: 90 Morningside Drive, Basement #3 | Lab: 851-854 Schermerhorn Extension
Tel: 212-854-4881 | Lab Tel: 212-854-5330 | Email: dr2497[at]columbia.edu | Twitter: @DustRubenstein
© 2002-2021 | Dustin R. Rubenstein | Columbia University in the City of New York