Irschick, Duncan

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Professor, Department of Biology
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Duncan Irschick is an integrative biologist interested in the evolution and ecology of animal performance. Animal performance traits have fascinated humans for generations, but there is still a great deal we don't know about why and how animals can perform their amazing feats, such as jumping, running, and biting. Why can some animals run so fast? How do lizards climb walls? Why are some animals so much stronger than humans? Whereas most research on animal performance has focused on the mechanistic underpinnings of performance (the "how"), Duncan's research explicitly examines performance traits in an evolutionary and ecological context. In this way, he examines not just the "how" of animal performance, but also the "why".
The research in his laboratory addresses the interface among organismal design, function, and ecology. Broadly, he is interested in the evolution of complex functional systems in all its facets. His research integrates microevolutionary and macroevolutionary approaches, and applies both experimental and descriptive approaches to understand the causes of, and ultimately the consequences of this diversity. Among others, some of the methods employed in his laboratory includes: phylogenetic comparative methods, ecological mark-recapture techniques, 2-D and 3-D kinematic analysis, analysis of kinetics (force dynamics), and analyses of hormones and morphology. While much of his research has focused on lizards as a model system, he also conducts studies with many other taxa, such as spiders, frogs, snakes, ungulates, salamanders, and mice, among others.

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