Kristal Cain

Ph.D. Candidate
Ecology, Evolution & Behavior Program
Department of Biology
Indiana University

E-mail: caink AT indiana DOT edu


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My brief and not so technical research description

There are lots of obvious, and not so obvious, differences between males and females. But it is less obvious why those differences exist and how they come to be. People have been interested in these sex differences for a long time but most of the research on it has focused on organisms that have extreme differences (think the peacock or elephant seal), and most of that research has been mainly concerned with males and how they develop those magnificent sexual traits (like the peacock's tail).

I am taking the other route and looking at females in a species where the sexes look almost identical. A better understanding of sex differences in species like this will help us understand how and why these differences evolve in the first place. To do this I use a small, common songbird, the dark-eyed junco. Junco life history and behavioral ecology is well described, making them an excellent species to use to answer these questions.

To read more specifics about my project go to the project description page.
To see pictures of the research go to the photos page
To read about the trials and tribulations of being a field biologist see my blog.