Mating preferences can facilitate speciation if they promote assortative mating and prevent hybridization. We are interested in how mate preferences evolve and generate reproductive isolation between species. Some sister species of Peromyscus can produce viable and fertile hybirds in the lab, but rarely produce hybrids in the wild, even when sympatric. We are currently studying the traits used in species recognition in one such species pair, Peromyscus leucopus and P. gossypinus. (Photo credit: Emily Jacobs-Palmer)
Taking advantage of the diversity of mating systems in the genus Peromyscus, our lab is studying the genetic architecture of reproductive traits influenced by post-copulatory sexual selection. Specifically, we are investigating the molecular underpinnings of male reproductive traits that are correlated with mating system such as sperm morphology and performance. We take advantage of the well-characterized variation in mating system across the Peromyscus genus, which allows us to address the roles of sperm competition and sexual conflict in reproductive trait evolution. (Photo credit: Heidi Fisher and James Weaver).