Molly E. Cummings
Sensory Ecology, Animal Cognition, Evolution, Neuroethology & Behavior
Our research focuses on external and internal mechanisms that drive biodiversity in animal cognition, behavior, and communication traits. We combine environmental measures, behavioral experiments in the lab, and neuro-molecular approaches to achieve an integrative understanding of the sources and targets of selection on communication and cognitive traits.
We mainly work with poeciliids (members of the livebearing freshwater fish family, Poeciliidae). We focus on the diversity of mating systems found within this family to ask how different social experiences shape behavior and cognition (Figure from Cummings (2018) Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology).
We also explore how different environments (both optical and predator) shape the evolution of visual signals (for communication and crypsis).