Ecological and Evolutionary Physiology

The central focus of the field is “how organisms work”. A science with a long, distinguished history, physiology makes use of a wide range of approaches, including biophysics, biochemistry and molecular biology, to study the mechanisms underlying how organisms capture and process energy, grow and reproduce, regulate their internal processes, run, swim, fly, respond to external stimuli, communicate and process information. EEMB faculty include ecological physiologists who use the mechanistic thinking, approaches and techniques of physiology to address ecological questions concerning organismal distribution and abundance, behavior, responses and adaptation to environmental change. Evolutionary physiologists study the origins and evolution of function. EEMB faculty investigate the hormonal mechanisms regulating reproduction in fishes, the selective forces that influence the geographic distribution of intertidal marine invertebrates, the effects of ocean acidification, the origins and evolution of visual systems and floral pigments, the mechanisms underlying body-size scaling of metabolic rates, the effects of temperature and altitude on foraging behavior. Ecological and evolutionary physiology in EEMB represents a shift in focus from the traditional study of “mechanism for the sake of mechanism”, interesting and important as it is, to mechanisms fundamental to the understanding of ecological patterns and processes, survival in and adaptation to a changing world.



Ecological physiology of invertebrates and fishes; biological oceanography; physiology of deep-sea animals; metabolic adaptations of hydrothermal vent animals; chemoautotrophic endosymbioses.

The Eliason Lab studies ecological and evolutionary physiology in fish. We are interested in the behavioral, physiological and biochemical processes that allow fish to thrive in their specific environmental conditions.

Ecological physiology of marine organisms.


Marine biogeochemistry, ocean acidification, phytoplankton ecophysiology, marine calcification, inorganic carbon chemistry, genomics, shot-gun proteomics, genetic diversity.


Our lab addresses the question of how complex traits originate during evolution. We primarily study invertebrate visual systems and eyes, addressing questions like, when did a particular phenotype evolve? When did the components of that phenotype evolve? Where did those components come from? What evolutionary processes and mechanisms were involved?


Molecular and genetic control of development in the nematode C. elegans; regulation of programmed cell death; mechanisms of tumorigenesis.


Comparative biochemistry and physiology; energetics of animal locomotion; evolutionary design of functional capacities; ecological physiology.

LIzzy Wilbanks

I am interested how microbial interactions and tightly-coupled biogeochemical cycles drive the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of populations, with a current focus on the bacteria and archaea of marine aggregates and biofilms.