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Ecology, Behavior & Evolution

Research in the Department of Ecology, Behavior, & Evolution is focused on investigating ecological and evolutionary processes operating at the level of individuals, populations, species, and communities. Major foci include understanding the processes structuring the distribution and abundance of organisms, behavioral adaptations to environmental and social challenges, evolution of gene networks and development, mapping genotype to phenotype, the processes and patterns of evolutionary change, and the application of all of these areas to the understanding of biodiversity.

Researchers in this department use a variety of approaches, including molecular techniques for probing the structure and phenotypic consequences of genetic variation, phylogenetic techniques for estimating genealogical relationships among taxa, field and laboratory experiments for hypothesis testing, telemetry and satellites for assessing patterns in species distributions, paleobiological data for quantifying the history of biodiversity, experimental evolution, mathematical modeling, and computer simulations of evolving systems. Unlike other subdisciplines, which concentrate on a few model taxa, evolutionary biologists use data from many different organisms from all over the world to test hypotheses about biological diversity. The unifying theme underlying all of these studies is that an evolutionary approach is needed to solve most biological problems.

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