As usual, I had a fantastic time at ABS this year. I got to meet Frans de Waal, whose book Our Inner Ape was one of the reasons that I became a scientist. I can’t wait to read his new book, which he signed for me🙂

I saw many fantastic talks and met inspiring scientists, especially Alison Bell, Molly Morris, Oscar Rios, Emilie Snell-Rood, and mayor Phil Stoddard. My favorite talks were from Meredith Steck, Malcom Rosenthal, PA Green, and Ria Ghai. I also got great feedback on my talk (plasticity and evolution of mating behavior) and poster (using guppies to teach evolution). Thanks ABS for another fun conference filled with lovely inspiring people.

Fish training is hard work

Our new paper is online in the Canadian Journal of Zoology!

Since so many hatchery rainbow trout get eaten immediately after stocking, we tried to give them some experience right before they entered the real world. While they were in the truck on the way to the lake, we exposed them to chemical cues that signal them to increase antipredator behavior. Unfortunately, the quick and easy approach isn’t going to cut it. Exposed fish had the same mortality rates as unexposed fish over the 6 months post stocking. Looks like it’s back to the drawing board to try out more complicated predator training protocols. Big congrats to Chris Kopack and coauthors on the paper!

An office with a view

I got to see Abbie Reade in action, doing research on the roof of the biology building–talk about an office with a view!!! Abbie is studying individual variation in honey bee foraging behavior to try to better understand the evolution of eusociality.

Don't try this at home kids!

Don’t try this at home kids!

Abbie tagged with a green spot

Abbie tagged this bee with a green spot

Bees grab nectar and then head back into the hive

Worker bees grab nectar and then head back into the hive

Guppy photo shoot

My collaborator, Dr. Emily Kane, helped me set up a photo shoot for some of my favorite low predation pet guppies. Here is a sneak peek of one of the glamour shots!


Emily also just posted an entertaining and educational blog featuring some of her photos from a “couples photo shoot”–this particular couple was quite amorous🙂 Check it out!

Guppy kits: teacher edition

“Even people in Alabama could be tricked into learning evolution with such an engaging program .” This is a quote from my mom, who happened to be visiting from Alabama when we launched our guppy kits this week.  Along with my mom, local teachers came to CSU to try out the kits as part of an amazing event hosted by the CNS EOC. The teachers were quite impressed; most of them want to use the kits in classrooms next year! As a special treat, Stephanie Simmons attended. She is one of the 7th-grade teachers that helped me design the original program on which we based the kits. *pictures*


Jacqueline Broder and Stephanie Simons work through a guppy kit.


Did morality evolve in rats?

I was so excited to read Oberliessen et al.’s paper in this month’s Animal Behaviour issue. Their study shows that rats understand fairness. “Our findings are consistent with the notion that a sense of fairness may have evolved long before humans emerged. [It] may therefore be a basic organizational principle, shared by many social species, that shapes the intricate social dynamics of individuals interrelating in larger groups” (Oberliessen et al. 2016).

This takes me back to a eureka moment when I was an undergraduate in Patty Gowaty’s animal behavior class. We read Frans de Waal’s book  Our Inner Ape, which convinced me that primates follow the golden rule and have a sense of morality. Wow! Primates and now rats are “moral.” How special are humans after all?