Alexandra Basolo

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Professor Biological Sciences Manter Hall 67

Research Interests

My research investigates evolutionary, behavioral and ecological processes that contribute to the maintenance of variation in the natural environment. Current research projects include laboratory and field work focusing on aspects of how natural and sexual selection contribute to the evolution of morphological, physiological and behavioral traits. My current research program includes:
  1. Investigating how mate choice and predation affect the maintenance of genetic variation for age at sexual maturation and body size in the platyfish. Results thus far indicate that in populations with a high risk of predation, alleles for larger size and later maturation increase in frequency, while in low predation populations, alleles for early maturation at smaller sizes increase in frequency.
  2. Examining the evolution of the sword in swordtail fishes. This research includes broad phylogenetic comparisons as well as manipulative experiments, directed at determining the costs and benefits of the sword, including energetic costs, predation costs and mating benefits. Results this far indicate that a female preference favoring a male sword appears to have evolved prior to the sword and is shared with a number of species lacking swords, and that multiple sources of selection act on the sword.
  3. Investigating the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of a host/parasite system between hermit crabs and a parasitic castrator. This is a relatively new line of research, but results thus far indicate that the prevalence of the parasite varies both seasonally and spatially along the California coast.

Recent Publications

  • Wagner WE Jr, Beckers OM, Tolle AE, Basolo, AL 2012 Tradeoffs limit the evolution of male traits that are attractive to females. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 279: 2899–2906.
  • Basolo, AL  2008 Evolution of pleiotropic alleles for maturation and size as a consequence of predation.  Biology Letters, 4, 200-203. (doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0638)
  • Wagner, WE. Jr & Basolo, AL  2008 Incidental sanctions and the evolution of direct benefits. Ethology 114, 521-539. (Invited, contracted paper.)
  • Kleemann, GA & Basolo, AL  2007 Facultative decrease in mating resistance in hermaphroditic Caenorhabditis elegans with self-sperm depletion. Animal Behaviour 74, 1339-1347. (doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.02.031)
  • Wagner, WE, Jr & Basolo, AL  2007 Host preferences in a phonotactic parasitoid of field crickets: the relative importance of host song characters. Ecological Entomology 32, 1-7.
  • Wagner, WE, Jr & Basolo, AL  2007 The relative importance of different direct benefits in the mate choices of a field cricket. Evolution 61, 617-622. (doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2007.00062.x)
  • Wagner, WE. Jr, Smith, AR & Basolo, AL  2007 False promises: females spurn cheating males in a field cricket. Biology Letters 3, 379-381.
  • Basolo, AL  2006 Genetic linkage and color polymorphism in the southern platyfish (Xiphophorus maculatus): a model system for studies of color pattern evolution. Zebrafish 3(1), 65-83.
  • Basolo, AL & Wagner, WE, Jr  2006 Genetic variation in maternal investment patterns in platyfish, Xiphophorus maculatusZebrafish 3(3), 339-345.
  • Benson, K & Basolo, AL  2006 Male-male competition and the sword in male swordtails, Xiphophorus helleri. Animal Behaviour 71, 129-134.**
  • Trainor, BE & Basolo, AL  2006 Location, location, location: stripe position effects on female sword preference. Animal Behaviour 71, 135-140. **

**Articles featured in the following news reports:

  • Discovery News, Discovery Channel.
  • ABC Science on Line, News and Science, Environment and Nature.
  • Animal Planet News.
  • Biological Psychology NewsLink.
  • National Public Radio, “Wait, wait don’t tell me.” Weekend AM radio program.
  • Basolo, AL  2004 Variation between and within the sexes in body size preferences. Animal Behaviour 68, 75-82. (Topic of Case Study developed by the Association for the Study of Behavior for Pre-University Psychology Courses taught in the United Kingdom.)
  • Basolo, AL & Wagner, WE, Jr  2004 Covariation between predation risk, body size and fin elaboration in the green swordtail.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 83, 87-100.
  • Basolo, AL & Alcaraz-Zubeldia, G  2003 The turn of the sword: energetic costs of a sexually selected trait. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 270, 1631-1636. (Two-page Featured  in: Smith & Smith, Elements of Ecology textbook, 2005 ed.)
  • Johnson, JB & Basolo, AL  2003 Visual exposure to a natural predator changes female preference for conspicuous male ornaments in the green swordtail. Behavioral Ecology 14, 619-625.
  • Basolo, AL  2002 Congruence between the sexes in preexisting receiver responses. Behavioral Ecology 13, 832-837.
  • Basolo, AL  2002 Female discrimination against sworded males in a poeciliid fish. Animal Behaviour 63, 463-468.
  • Basolo, AL & Trainor, BE  2002 The conformation of a female preference for a composite male trait.  Animal Behaviour 63, 469-474.
  • Aspbury, A & Basolo, AL  2002 Repeatable female preferences, mating order and mating success in the poeciliid fish, Heterandria formosa. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 51, 238-244.
  • Basolo, AL  2001 The effect of intrasexual fitness differences on genotype frequency stability at Fisherian sex ratio equilibrium.  Annales Zoologici Fennici - WD Hamilton Memorial Issue 38, 297-304.
  • Basolo, AL & Delaney, K  2001 Male biases for male characteristics in females in Priapella olmecae and Xiphophorus helleri (Family Poeciliidae).  Ethology 107, 431-438.
  • Endler, JA, Basolo, AL, Glowacki, S & Zerr, J  2001 Variation in response to artificial selection on light sensitivity in guppies, Poecilia reticulata.  The American Naturalist 158, 36-48. (Featured in: Arnqvist & Rowe, Sexual Conflict, 2005 ed.)
  • Trainor, B & Basolo, AL  2000 An evaluation of video playback using Xiphophorus helleriAnimal Behaviour 59, 83-89.
  • Basolo, AL  2000 Problems in studying receiver biases and their effects on signal evolution. Espmark, Y, Amundsen, T & Rosenqvist, G, eds. Signalling and Signal Design in Animal Communication.  Norway: Tapir Publ. pges. 177-193.
  • Evolutionary, Behavioral, and Ecological Processes
  • Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin
  • M.A. San Francisco State University
  • B.A. University of California, San Diego