A cheeky Nicrophorus tomentosus. Photo copyrighted by Jena Johnson.

Our research integrates statistical, genetic, and behavioral approaches to address the evolution of complex traits. We specifically study social behavior and social interactions, including communication, mating, parental care, aggression, and development of behavior. Where most of our previous work adopted a quantitative genetic approach, we currently focus on gene expression and regulation.

We are studying various species of burying beetle (Nicrophorus spp.), which have the advantage of easy replication, cross-fostering, laboratory studies that reflect natural studies, diverse species, and rapid generation time. Most importantly, these beetles have elaborate and extensive parental care involving parents regurgitating food to begging offspring. Parenting can be uniparental female, uniparental male, and biparental.

In collaboration with the P. J. Moore laboratory, we collaborate on studies of the milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, and the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci.

All babies are adorable. A larval Nicrophorus orbicollis, obviously. Photo copyrighted by Jena Johnson.
Milkweed bug in the wild. Photo courtesy of Dr. Alfredo Attisano

Current funding:

USDA-ARS Cooperative Agreement: “Managing whiteflies and whitefly-transmitted viruses in vegetable crops in the southeastern U.S.”

Research support from Wiley Publishers