- My research interests and those of my students revolve around understanding
the adaptive significance of animal social behavior. On the one hand, we study
the role of ecological, social, and genetic relatedness factors in shaping
the structure of animal societies; on the other, we unravel the "rules"
that govern the social interactions that occur among individuals living within
different societies. In our work, we blend the development of conceptual theory
with rigorous empirical testing of specific a priori hypotheses. Much of our
research involves field work, making detailed observations and performing
experimental manipulations on individually-marked populations of organisms.
- My own research currently concentrates on three topics: (1) seeking general
rules of social interactions among organisms that live in family groupings
(i.e. predicting the "family dynamics" of animals, including humans),
(2) expanding social theory as it pertains to sharing versus suppressing of
reproduction among members of social groups (i.e. expanding and testing "optimal
reproductive skew" theory), and (3) studying conflicts of interest between
male and female mates over sexual and parental behaviors (i.e. understanding
the "battle of the sexes" from an evolutionary perspective). Much
of this work has been supported by the National Science Foundation.