Lab Members

Graduate Students

Ph.D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2010-present)

B.S., Conservation Biology, Clemson University (2010)

Research Interests: I am curious about evolutionary processes associated with functional morphology, particularly in fishes. Why are they so diverse? How does their ecology affect their evolution and phenotype? What are the repeated patterns in functional adaptations? I plan to address these questions using phylogenetic comparative methods, performance experiments, and ecomorphological analyses.

For more information about Patrick’s research, contact him at

CHRISTOPHER MARTINthis picture does look a little bit like a girl

Ph.D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2007-present)

B.S., Biology, Duke University (2005)

Research interests: I am broadly interested in the evolution and ecology of adaptive radiations, particularly in fishes.  Specifically, I aim to understand the ecological context of trophic innovation, speciation, and niche transition.

I am currently studying two sympatric clades of Cyprinodon pupfishes on San Salvador Island, Bahamas and Laguna Chichancanab, Mexico. In contrast to the detritivore diets of all other Cyprinodon species across their entire North American and Caribbean range, incipient species within these two clades have invaded novel trophic niches, including scale-eating, piscivory, and zooplanktivory. No other pupfishes specialize on these common resources. I am interested in understanding if unique mechanisms drive the evolution of ecological novelty and why this has occurred in only two lakes across the entire Cyprinodon range.

Several recent publications:

Martin CH, Wainwright PC. Trophic novelty is linked to exceptional rates of morphological diversification in two adaptive radiations of Cyprinodon pupfishes. Evolution. In press. download pdf.

Martin CH. 2010. Unexploited females and unreliable signals of male quality in a Malawi cichlid bower polymorphism. Behavioral Ecology. 21:1195-1202. download pdf. supplement. Figs S1 S2

Martin CH, Genner MJ. 2009. A role for male bower size as an intrasexual signal in a Lake Malawi cichlid fish. Behaviour. 146:963-978. download pdf.

Martin CH, Genner MJ. 2009. High niche overlap between two successfully coexisting pairs of Lake Malawi cichlids.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 66:579-588. download pdf. supplementary data.

For more information about Chris’s research, check out his CV or contact him at


Ph.D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2007-present)

B.S., Biology, UNC Chapel Hill (2006)

Research interests: I am interested in evolutionary ecomorphology, with a particular emphasis on functional trait evolution in genomic systems. I am currently addressing questions involving parallel adaptation and speciat ion in the threespine stickleback model system from a functional morphology perspective.

Recent publications:

Pfennig DW, McGee M. Resource polyphenism increases species richness: a test of the hypothesis. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society of London, Series B. 365: 577-591. download pdf.

For more information about Matt’s research, contact him at


Ph. D. student, Graduate Group in Population Biology, University of California, Davis (2010-present)

B. A., Biology, Cornell University (2010)

Research Interests: I am interested in the evolution of morphological diversity in freshwater fishes.  Previously, I worked on the only surviving species of the order Amiiformes, the bowfin, and I now seek to understand patterns in morphological diversity in a more speciose clade, the anabantoids.

For more information about Tomomi’s research, contact her at

Postdoctoral Researchers


(personal website)

Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (Oct. 2010-Present)

Ph.D. University of California, Riverside (Sept. 2010)

M.S. Indiana State University (August 2004)

B.S. Montclair State University (August 1999)

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in evolutionary physiology and functional morphology. My research focuses on the effects of varying selective pressures on physiological and functional systems. I employ a variety of techniques to address questions related to how natural and sexual selective pressures influence functional systems (e.g., swimming performance in fish). I am also interested in how environmental variation affects the physiology (e.g., growth and development) and morphology (e.g., body size and scale counts) of ectothermic vertebrates. Most of my research is conducted in a phylogenetic context, which allows me to incorporate modern phylogenetic comparative methods to examine the evolution of physiological, morphological and functional systems. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Wainwright lab, I continue to explore the evolution of morphology and function in fish.

Several Recent Publications:

Oufiero, C.E., M.R. Walsh, D.N. Reznick, and T. Garland, Jr.  2011. Swimming performance trade-offs across a gradient in community composition in Trinidadian killifish (Rivulus hartii). Ecology. 92:170-179.

Oufiero, C.E. and M.J. Angilletta. 2010. The energetics of lizard embryos at fluctuating temperatures. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.83: 869-876.

Oufiero, C.E. and T. Garland, Jr. 2009. Repeatability and correlation of swimming performances and morphology over varying time scales in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata).Functional Ecology. 23: 969-978.

Oufiero, C. E., and T. Garland, Jr. 2007. Evaluating performance costs of sexually selected traits. Functional Ecology 21: 676-689.

For more information about Chris’s research contact him at


Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (November 2008-present)

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, USA (2005-2008)

Ph.D. University of Virginia (Sept 2005)

B.A., Oxford University, UK (June 2001)

Research interests: I seek to understand the fundamental processes driving large-scale macroevolutionary and macroecological patterns by utilising phylogenetic comparative methods. My previous research focused on mammalian evolution, in particular cetacean size and life history evolution as well as an ongoing collaborative project set on the evolution of mammalian dietary strategies.  I also dabble in phylogenetics, in particular methods for combining previously published trees into new phylogenies (supertrees). In the Wainwright lab I am applying my skills to understanding the evolution of the labrid radiation from a morphological perspective and occasionally building molecular phylogenies.

Several recent publications:

Price SA, Gittleman JL. 2007. Hunting to extinction: biology and regional economy influence extinction risk and the impact of hunting in artiodactyls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274:1845-1851.

Bininda-Emonds ORP, Cardillo M, Jones KE, MacPhee RDE, Beck RMD, Grenyer R, Price SA, Vos RA, Gittleman JL, Purvis A. 2007. The delayed rise of present-day mammals. Nature 446:507-512.

Ezenwa VO, Price SA, Altizer S, Vitone ND, Cook KC. 2006. Host traits and species richness in even and odd-toed hoofed mammals, Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla. Oikos 115:526-536.

Price SA, Bininda-Emonds ORP, Gittleman AL. 2005. A complete phylogeny of the whales, dolphins and even-toed hoofed mammals (Cetartiodactyla). Biological Reviews 80:445-473.

For more information about Sam’s research, visit her website or contact her at


DFG Postdoctoral Fellow, Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis (since 2009)

Ph.D. Geology, University of California, Davis (June 2008)

Diplom (M.Sc. equivalent), University of Bonn (2003)

Vordiplom (B.S. equivalent), University of Bonn (2000)

Research interests: I am interested in how ecology has influenced the evolution of vertebrate eyes, both at the macroscopic and microscopic level. I study how the phenotypic diversity of eyes evolved in response to changes in ecology and physical environment. Using modern comparative methods, I

scrutinize adaptations in eye morphology in a diverse array of clades ranging from teleost fishes to mammals and dinosaurs.

The research of my dissertation largely focused on the macro-anatomy of terrestrial amniote eyes, with the overall goal to develop quantitative methods to estimate eyeball soft-tissue dimensions and diel activity pattern in fossil archosaurs. Furthermore, I have worked on Triassic marine reptiles, including extensive field work in Nevada and China.

Several recent publications:

Schmitz L., Motani R. In press. Nocturnality in dinosaurs inferred from scleral ring and orbit morphology. Science.

Motani R., Schmitz L. In press. Phylogenetic versus functional signals in the evolution of form-function relationships in terrestrial vision. Evolution.

Schmitz L., Wainwright P.C. In press. Ecomorphology of the eyes and skull in zooplanktivorous labrid fishes. Coral Reefs. [Published online January 8th 2011: DOI: 10.1007/s00338-010-0714-2]

Schmitz L., Motani R. 2010. Morphological differences between the eyeballs of nocturnal and diurnal amniotes revisited from optical perspectives of visual environments. download pdf. author summary.

Schmitz L. 2009. Quantitative estimates of visual performance features in fossil birds. Journal of Morphology 270, 759-773. download pdf.

For more information about Lars’s research, visit his website or contact him at