Mikus Abolins Abols
E-mail: mabolins AT indiana DOT edu
My research focuses on the physiological mechanisms of behavioral and morphological evolution. Behavioral and morphological phenotype is a complex suite of interacting components, where evolution of one part may affect evolution of another. I study these effects by investigating how the interaction between two major physiological systems – HPA (the “stress” axis) and HPG (the “reproductive” axis) axes – may facilitate or constrain concerted evolution of phenotype. I work on free living Oregon juncos Junco hyemalis thurberi in southern California where two recent colonization events of urban environments (University of California campuses in San Diego and Los Angeles) by this predominantly montane species has provided a marvelous opportunity to study the genetic and physiological mechanisms of local adaptation and rapid evolution. I use short-term hormonal manipulations in free living birds to access the population- and individual-level differences in the crosstalk between the physiological systems. I have also started work on characterizing the population-genetic processes that may lead to behavioral or morphological evolution after a very recent colonization event of city environment (~5yrs).