Faculty Directory

Contact Information

Office:
Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center, 4006
Phone: +1-508-831-5938
lmathews@wpi.edu

Lauren Mathews

Research in my laboratory addresses questions in the field of evolutionary ecology and environmental biology, and typically combines field work and laboratory studies. Current projects focus on two disciplines.

One of the major goals of my laboratory is to understand the geographic and evolutionary processes that affect and generate biological diversity, particularly in aquatic habitats. In North America, freshwater faunas are particularly vulnerable to ecological changes because of heavy manipulation of habitats by human activity. In addition, North America harbors a substantial majority of the world’s biodiversity in freshwater crayfish, many of which are considered to be species of conservation concern. Furthermore, biodiversity in this group is poorly understood, and species may be declining or even disappearing even before they have been fully documented. We are working to understand the ecological and evolutionary interactions among native and invasive species of crayfish in the northeastern United States, with the ultimate goal of predicting how these interactions will change future distributions and diversity in this group.

Another research goal is to understand how ecological and phylogenetic factors contribute to social evolution. In crayfish, females bear most of the costs of reproduction, and males compete with one another for status in a dominance hierarchy, but the role of sexual selection on the social evolution of these animals is not well understood. We use both field data and laboratory experiments, including genetic analysis of family relationships, to test hypotheses about social behavior in this taxon.

Research Interests

  • Evolutionary ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Behavioral ecology

Education

  • B.A., Connecticut College, 1996
  • Ph.D., University of Louisiana, Lafayette, 2001

Featured Publications

  • Mathews, L.M. 2011. Mother-offspring recognition and kin-preferential behaviour in the crayfish Orconectes limosus. Behaviour 148: 71-87.
  • Warren, A.H., L. Saltzman, M.A. Buckholt, and L.M. Mathews. 2009. Dominance interactions differ by sex and season in the crayfish Orconectes quinebaugensis. Journal of Crustacean Biology 29: 484-490.
  • Mathews, L.M. and A. Anker. 2008. Molecular phylogeny reveals extensive ancient and ongoing radiations in a snapping shrimp (Alpheus) species complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 50: 268–281.
  • Mathews, L.M., M. A. Buckholt, L. Adams, E. Anderson, M. Basile, and E. Gottardi. 2008. Phylogenetic, phylogeographic, and morphological relationships in the Orconectes virilis (Decapoda, Cambaridae) species complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48: 126-135.
  • Mathews, L.M. 2007. Evidence for restricted gene flow over small spatial scales in a marine snapping shrimp Alpheus angulosus. Marine Biology 152: 645–655

 

Professional Highlights

  • Louisiana Board of Regents Doctoral Fellow, 1996-2000
  • Smithsonian Institution Graduate Student Fellowship, 1998, 1999
 
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