Principal investigator:

Dr. Kyle Summers

 

Current graduate students:

Evan Twomey

Tiffany Kosch

James Tumulty

Adam Stuckert

 

Former graduate students:

Jesse Delia

Justin Yeager

Jason Brown

Jennifer Roberts

Sea McKeon

Rebecca Symula

Mark Clough

Kyle

Adam Stuckert

Research Interests: The primary thrust of my research is understanding the evolution and maintenance of mimicry complexes in Peruvian frogs of the genus Ranitomeya.  In particular, I am interested in the driving mechanisms behind the ‘mimetic radiation’ Ranitomeya imitator (the mimic poison frog) underwent to mimic multiple sympatric species over its geographical range.  Previous work in the lab by Becky Symula showed that R. imitator is the mimic in this situation, having diverged to share morphological similarities in color and pattern with congeneric species. 

My ongoing work focuses on identifying the nature of these mimicry complexes.  Classical views of mimicry maintain two radically different mechanisms of mimicry.  On the one hand is Batesian mimicry in which a non-toxic and palatable species mimics a toxic/non-palatable model species.  This species therefore cheats the system and gains protection from predators that have learned to avoid that morphological appearance.  On the other hand we have Müllerian mimicry.  These systems consist of multiple toxic/non-palatable species which mimic each other and contribute to learned predator avoidance of a shared appearance.  In essence, the differences boil down to whether the mimic is beneficial or detrimental (or at best neutral) from the model species’ perspective.  I am testing the hypothesis that these complexes are examples of Müllerian mimicry by using naïve chicks as model predators to elucidate whether both model and mimic contribute to learned avoidance of a shared appearance.

Additionally, I am testing the hypothesis of Müllerian mimicry by analyzing toxicity of these species.  There are at least 4 different mimicry complexes that R. imitator is involved in and I aim to identify the toxins present in both model and mimic in these populations.  I am hopeful that identifying these toxins will contribute to our understanding of mimicry in this system and help us better understand why R. imitator shifts between models throughout its range.

 

Publications:


Lindquist, ED, MJ Shin, JO Cossel Jr, AMM Stuckert, MC Bletz, and NC Trimmer.  2011.  Chytrid in the canopy: Picado’s bromeliad treefrog, Isthmohyla picadoi (Hylidae) persists at a site affected by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Herpetol. Rev. 42(2):205-208.


AMM Stuckert, JP Stone, JR Asper, MG Rinker, CL Rutt, NC Trimmer, and ED Lindquist.  2009.  Microhabitat use and spatial distribution in Picado’s bromeliad treefrog, Isthmohyla picadoi (Anura, Hylidae).  Phyllomedusa 8(2):125-134.