Deborah McLennan


Professor Emerita

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
MSc, PhD
Phone: 416-978-8538
Office: RW 518

Research Areas:
Behaviour, Physiology & Anatomy of Organisms;
Biodiversity & Systematics

Study Organisms
: Animals


I am interested in studying the evolution of communication between males and females during that most intricate of all processes: courtship. Ultimately, I am attempting to uncover how much of the interaction is based upon a (usually male) monologue and how much upon a dialogue between partners. I pose all of my questions from a comparative phylogenetic perspective. This perspective includes three steps: (1) use the phylogenetic tree for the study group to delineate the pattern of courtship character origin and diversification, (2) construct an hypothesis about the forces that have shaped the evolution of courtship behaviours based upon that pattern, and (3) test the hypothesis with a series of experiments. To date, I have concentrated upon the evolution of mate recognition in fishes based upon visual (sticklebacks) and olfactory (swordtails and sticklebacks) cues. I am currently adding an acoustical component (frogs) to my research program.