Dr. Lexi Brown is a recent graduate of UMass Amherst and did her doctoral research in the Clotfelter lab at Amherst College.
Research Summary: Some animals use pigments called carotenoids to produce red, yellow or orange coloration. In addition, carotenoids may benefit the health or breeding potential of these animals. If carotenoids that are placed in the skin are unavailable for supporting health, body coloration might show an overall picture of how an animal is faring in its environment-- e.g., a sick or poorly fed animal might have dull color, while a healthy animal might be colorful. This is called “honest signaling." Female signaling is rarely considered by researchers, because males are usually the flashy, carotenoid-ornamented sex, and they use this signal to attract females. But what about cases in which females are ornamented and males are dull? How a carotenoid-based ornament may have evolved in the female convict cichlid fish (Amatitlania siquia) is the focus of Dr. Brown’s research.