New research on the genetics of behaviour and biomechanics in fishes at the BMSC

Multiple body parts must work together to accomplish a task. For example, the coordination of visual and locomotor systems is critical for animals that hunt for food. For fishes, both swimming and feedings systems must work together to  capture prey. How this process impacts survival, or how it differs depending on ecological conditions, is unknown. In fact, almost nothing is known about the genes that control behaviour in non-human animals. Now, Drs. Tim Higham and Sean Rogers have received two years of funding from the National Science Foundation’s EAGER program to study these questions in threespine stickleback at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. Using both marine and local freshwater stickleback populations, they will combine genomics and state of the are high-speed 3D video to identify the genes underlying behaviours that have been essential to the evolution of these fishes in the region. The research will provide a basis for which to conduct future studies on complex behaviours, including humans.  In addition to research training and field experiences for students and postdoctoral investigators in Bamfield, the NSF grant will provide public education opportunities for the entire community.