Colton Watts

Ph.D. Student

School of Biological Sciences
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior


  • M.S.    Magna Cum Laude, Biology, East Tennessee State University (2014)
  • B.S.     Biology, East Tennessee State University (2012)

Research Interest

I am a PhD student with broad interests in the causes and consequences of behavioral variation within and among individuals. As a result, my research is aimed not only at identifying environmental factors that influence behavioral decisions, but also at understanding how these influences scale to affect population and community-level processes. My Master’s research focused on the impact of predictable (e.g., daily and seasonal) shifts in environmental conditions on optimal behavioral strategies in spiders, and I am now pursuing similar questions regarding variation in mate choice strategies and sexual selection. I am currently using a population comparison approach to characterize intraspecific variation in male displays and female mate choice in Schizocosa wolf spiders. I plan to combine this approach with mathematical modeling, experimental manipulations, and population genetics to better understand the long-term consequences of environmental variation on the stability of mate choice and the diversification of sexual communication systems.

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