Rebecca Koch in Grand Teton National Park

Rebecca E. Koch

ARC DECRA Postdoctoral Fellow
Dowling Lab, Monash University

(R.E. Adrian)

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Evolutionary biology across winged systems

I take an integrative approach to answering longstanding questions about animal communication and sexual signaling. My dissertation focused on a unique system of domestic canaries that offered control over carotenoid pigment availability in order to assess the fundamental bases for honesty in colourful avian signals and the role of dietary carotenoids in physiological health. (Read the main results here)


Explaining the mechanisms that underlie condition-dependent signals remains a key challenge in behavioural ecology. My recent work has shifted to the new field of mitonuclear ecology, applying my zoological background to tackle how mitochondrial variation influences physiological and behavioural performance. Currently, I use the model system of the fruit fly to explore how variation at the cellular level cascades upward to variation in behaviour--particularly mating display behaviors. The genetic lines I have developed are also excellent for testing the Mother's Curse hypothesis and the functional effects of mitochondrial genetic variation.


Background and banner photos from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, USA--the site of my first field research position

Male flies courting a mating pair