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Welcome to the Sandkam Lab

We're a research lab in the department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Across species there is tremendous diversity in reproductive strategies, and these strategies have a profound influence on the evolution of species. We ask what the genetic causes and consequences of reproductive strategies are for males and females across species. It remains largely unknown how mate preference and sexual traits are encoded within the genome, and how processes of genome evolution influence reproductive strategies. By bringing together perspectives from genetics, genomics, behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology we take an integrative approach to identify the mechanisms underlying these strategies.

We primarily concentrate on the freshwater fishes in the family Poeciliidae, which differ widely in the male traits preferred by females, as well as the strategies used by males during courtship. We take advantage of this natural variation to study both male tactics and female choice to understand how biodiversity is shaped by the interplay between reproductive strategies and genome evolution.

Drawing of Poecilia picta fish. Three males with different amounts of orange and a female with no or
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