Gil G. Rosenthal
Department of Biology
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843
Ph. D. Zoology,
University of Texas at Austin, 2000
Curriculum Vitae (updated November 2016)
WELCOME BY GIL ROSENTHAL
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'
- Isaac Asimov
Our lab's research focuses on mate choice and its consequences: we seek to understand how female preferences and male sexual signals work and how they evolve, and in turn to understand the role that mate choice and signaling play in shaping basic ecological and evolutionary processes. We work at the interface between behavioral ecology and evolutionary genomics. Our primary focus is on visual and chemical communication in teleost fishes, integrating observational and experimental studies of behavior with next-generation molecular methods. We enjoy collaborating with other labs with complementary areas of specialization.
Our lab at TAMU includes extensive indoor space for experimentation and animal housing. Our CICHAZ research station in the Sierra Madre Oriental of Hidalgo, Mexico, is a home base for field trips and experimental research on natural hybrid zones of swordtail fish, centered at our CICHAZ research station. Hybrids between Xiphophorus malinche and X. birchmanni represent a ‘genomic collision’ between two species with divergent suites of male traits and female preferences, and provide a terrific opportunity to understand both the genomic architecture underlying mate choice and the fitness consequences of novel sexual phenotypes in the wild. Ongoing research, funded by an NSF LTREB grant, combines population, quantitative, and evolutionary genetics with morphological studies of male signals and behavioral studies of mate preference. Social and environmental effects on chemical signaling also play a major role in this system. In conjunction with efforts to characterize the genetics of multivariate female mating preferences, we have recently developed anyFish, a tool for the creation of synthetic animated stimuli for studying visual signals.
I have recently begun a collaborative project on mate choice, life-history evolution, and ecology in the annual killifish genus Austrolebias. Like swordtails, these remarkable little Uruguayan fishes lend themselves well to both field and laboratory work. They are restricted to seasonal bodies of water, where they grow rapidly, reproduce, and die within the space of a few winter months, leaving their eggs to estivate in diapause. These closed systems should allow us to gain a comprehensive picture of the biotic and abiotic environment, and, in concert with behavioral studies of mate choice, how sexual selection changes over space and time.
TAMU offers excellent intellectual and physical resources in both the Biology Department and the broader program in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Subtropical Bryan/College Station is within easy reach of Houston, Austin, and an array of ecologically distinct natural areas, and offers a bucolic country lifestyle in a surprisingly cosmopolitan setting.
If you’re interested in applying for a Ph.D. position in the lab, please peruse Rosenthal lab publications and read the prospective graduate student page. Undergraduates from TAMU and elsewhere interested in doing research are encouraged to read the undergraduate research page.