Category Archives: Uncategorized

Predictable (and unpredictable) evolution in stick insects

Timema cristinae, Ceanothus, PR

Timema cristinae, Ceanothus, PR, photo by Moritz Muschick

Check out our new paper the predictability of morph frequency evolution in Timema cristinae stick insects, which was published this week in Science. Patrik Nosil and I each wrote blog posts on the paper.

For those interested, here is Patrik’s blog post on Eco-Evo Evo-Eco, and my post with Nature E&E’s Behind the Paper.

And for those who want more, here are links to media coverage of the paper, which I will update as necessary.

Comes naturally? Using stick insects to study natural selection, predictability of evolution

¿Cómo de predecible es la evolución?


Nabokov’s Butterflies at USU’s Science Unwrapped


We (Lauren and I) gave a public talk as part of USU’s Science Unwrapped series on the connection between art and science in Vladmir Nabokov’s work as a novelist and systematist and the connection of his work to our own on Lycaeides butterflies. PhD student Amy Springer made a guest appearance as Nabokov and the whole lab was involved in activities related to talk. Check out the full video below, which includes a butterfly release by kids in cages.

Watch the video.



Butterfly release.


Nabokov resurrected getting set up for a camera lucida demonstration.


Lauren leading a wing pattern classification demonstration.


The whole gang.

New paper provides evidence of balancing selection on color in stick insects

In a new ‘From the Cover’ paper out in Molecular Ecology (led by Doro Lindtke), we show that color and color pattern in Timema cristinate map to a single region of reduced recombination (likely an inversion) and that overdominance (i.e., heterozygote advantage) promotes the persistence of green and melanistic color morphs. The paper was accompanied by a News and Views piece on the role of balancing selection in the maintenance of variation.


This photo, taken by Moritz Muschick, shows green (unstriped) and melanistic Timema cristinae color morphs and appears on the cover of Molecular Ecology volume 26, issue 22.

No evidence that gut microbes are an important factor in host shifts in Lycaeides, paper out now


Sam’s paper assessing determinants of variation in Lycaeides melissa caterpillar gut microbiomes is out now in Scientific Reports. We were interested in whether evolutionary or plastic changes in gut microbiome were critical in colonizing novel host plants. Our results presented in this paper suggest that this isn’t the case, and join a growing body of evidence pointing towards a more limited role of gut microbes in Lepidoptera in general (relative to other taxonomic groups where gut microbes are clearly important for growth and development).

You can listen to Sam discuss this work and her research more generally on this Slightly Evolved podcast.


Evolution 2017

This is a bit late, but several folks from the lab gave talks at the Evolution meeting in Portland this June. In case you missed them, here are links to video recordings on YouTube.

Lauren Lucas. Genetic constraints on wing pattern variation in Lycaeides butterflies.

Samridhi Chaturvedi. The predictability of genomic changes underlying a recent host shift.

Alex Rego. Genomic basis of rapid adaptation to a low quality host plant.

Amy Springer. Inbreeding depression in an ecological context.

Speciation in stick insects, paper and cover image


Our paper on speciation in stick insects made the cover of Nature Ecology and Evolution (image by Moritz Muschick). In this paper we show how multiple factors come together for speciation to move from early to late stages of isolation and genomic differentiation, and we identify a distinct gap in genomic differentiation between con- and hetero-specific populations in sympatry.

You can read more about the paper in these blog and news articles:

Eco-evolutionary dynamics blog


Business Standard