Our lab addresses a fundamental question in biology: how do novel phenotypic traits originate and diversify in nature? We use a wide range of approaches to address this question from different perspectives, and on different levels of biological organization. We use behavioral and ecological approaches in the lab and field on experimental and natural populations to understand when and how ecological processes can drive phenotypic evolution. We employ standard developmental techniques and growth manipulations to address physiological mechanisms of phenotype formation and evolution. Lastly, we rely on an increasing range of developmental-genetic and molecular tools (in-situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, EST libraries, RNAinterference, microarrays, 2d-Protein-gel electrophoresis) to investigate the genetic and genomic regulation of phenotype expression and diversification. While each of these approaches has provided valuable insights, it has been most of all the integration across these levels of analyses that has proven most informing and fascinating. Our study organisms have been primarily beetles in the genus Onthophagus.
We have also begun to address related questions in other organisms, in particular the beetle family Lampyridae (fireflies, lightning bugs) and Drosophila, and are open to add additional organisms to our repertoire. The Moczek laboratory offers a wide range of opportunities for postgraduate, graduate, and undergraduate research in Evolution, Development, and Ecology. At the same time this lab is part of one of the strongest and most diverse biology departments with a stellar record in integrative, crossdisciplinary work.