A Little Bit About Our Research on Performance

The basis of our lab's research is performance - performance of animals, including humans, in the context of their biotic or abiotic environments. We're interested in trade-offs between traits such as speed and endurance; the ways that changes in temperature or oxygen levels or life stages affect performance; and - in the case of sport - we're interested in optimising performance levels.

Currently, we're looking at projects such as:

1. Skill, balance, and athleticism in soccer performance (humans)

See the following posts for more detail:
Research and Innovation in Soccer (on our soccer website)
Measuring Individual Performance in a Team Context (on our soccer website)
The Importance of Effective Receiving and Passing (on our soccer website)
Assessment of Receiving and Passing Skills (on our soccer website)


 2. Weapon strength in signalling animals (crustaceans, lizards)

See the following publications for more details:
Wilson RS, James RS, Bywater C, Seebacher F. 2009. Costs and benefits of increased weapon size differ between sexes of the slender crayfish, Cherax dispar. Journal of Experimental Biology 212:853-858. View abstract here.

Seebacher F & Wilson RS. 2007. Individual recognition in crayfish (Cherax dispar): the roles of strength and experience in deciding aggressive encounters. Biology Letters 3:471-474. View abstract here. 

Seebacher F & Wilson RS. 2006. Fighting fit: Thermal plasticity of metabolic function and fighting success in the crayfish Cherax destructor. Functional Ecology 20: 1045-1053. View abstract here. 

crustaceans fighting to establish dominance

3. Tradeoffs in locomotor performance (fish, crustaceans, amphibians, insects, humans)

See the following publications for more details:
Angilletta MJ, Wilson RS, Niehaus AC & Ribiero P. 2008. The fast and the fractalous: tradeoffs between running speed and manoeuvrability in leaf-cutter ants. Functional Ecology 22:78-83. View abstract here.

James RS & Wilson RS. 2008. Explosive jumping: Morphological and physiological specialisations for extreme jumping in Australian rocket frogs. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 81:176-185. View abstract here.

Wilson RS & James RS. 2004. Constraints on muscular performance: trade-offs between power output and fatigue-resistance in skeletal muscle. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 271: S222-S225.

Van Damme R, Wilson RS, Van Hooydonck B, & Aerts P. 2002. Performance constraints in decathletes. Nature 415:755-756. View abstract here.
do a male threadfin rainbowfish's streamers affect his swimming?

4. The myriad ways that the abiotic environment (i.e. temperature, pH, UV radiation, oxygen levels, etc) or the biotic environment (i.e. competitors, predators, etc) influences performance (frogs, fish, crustaceans, lizards)
See the following posts for more detail:
Run Gecko Run
Measuring Toad Jumps
Studying Mosquitofish in the South of France

And the following selected publications:
Wilson RS, Lefrancois C, Domenici P & Johnston IA. 2010. Environmental influences on unsteady swimming behaviour: consequences for predator-prey and mating encounters in teleosts In Fish Locomotion: An eco-ethological perspective (Eds Domenici, P & Kapoor, BG). Science Publishers, NH, USA. 

Barth B & Wilson RS. 2010. Life in Acid: interactive effects of pH and natural organic acids on growth, development and locomotor performance of larval striped marsh frogs (Limnodynastes peronii). Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 1293-1300. View full text here.

Condon CHL & Wilson RS. 2006. Effect of thermal acclimation on female resistance to forced matings in the eastern mosquito fish. Animal Behaviour 72: 585-593. View abstract here.

Wilson RS. 2005. Temperature influences swimming and sneaky-mating performance of male mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki. Animal Behaviour 70:1387-1394. 

Billy measures jumping performance in a toad metamorph