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Darren Rebar

Darren Rebar

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Campus Box 4050

Building Science Hall

Room 155

  • 620-341-5614


A common feature of organisms is their ability to adjust to different environmental conditions. More specifically, a single genotype can differentially express its genes in response to environmental variation. Despite being a widespread phenomenon in nature, how such phenotypic plasticity evolves remains unresolved. And what happens when the relevant environment inducing such plasticity is rather dynamic because it is composed of other individuals who can respond to environmental variation and even influence the patterns of others around them? Biotic environments, whether composed of conspecifics or heterospecifics, provide a dynamic and intense source of selection on individuals throughout their lifetime, and how individuals respond to biotic environments may not be solely due to their genes, but a function of the genes of the individuals forming that environment. The consequences of such environments and their interactions may offer new insights to longstanding evolutionary themes.

My research explores how biotic interactions shape individual traits. By looking at (i) the plastic response of individuals, (ii) the ability of biotic environments to induce such plasticity, and (iii) underlying genetic variation in biotic environments, I explore the evolutionary consequences that trait variation may have on populations, from the maintenance of genetic variation to its potential to initiate divergence. I explore these topics by studying patterns of variation in fitness-related traits, particularly mating signals and mate preferences. Because sexual selection plays an important role in the speciation process, the influence of biotic environments on sexually selected traits may provide a widespread understanding to two very fundamental questions in biology: 1) How does the initial variation in traits arise, and 2) How do populations of interacting individuals begin to diverge?

I address these questions using various insect species, and focus on a wide range of fitness-related traits, with a particular focus on sexually selected ones (i.e. male signals and female mate preferences).

If you are interested in joining my lab as a master’s student at ESU, send me an email and we can discuss our interests and possible projects that we could develop.

If you are an undergraduate student who is interested in any of these ideas and would like to participate in research in my lab, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Recent Publications

Schrader M, Jarrett BJM, Rebar D, Kilner RM. 2017. Adaptation to a novel family environment involves both apparent and cryptic phenotypic changes. Proc R Soc B 284: 20171295.

Kilmer JT, Fowler-Finn KD, Gray DA, Höbel G, Rebar D, Reichert M, Rodríguez RL. 2017. Describing mate preference functions and other function-valued traits. J Evol Biol 30: 1658-1673

Jarrett BJM, Schrader M, Rebar D, Houslay TM, Kilner RM. 2017. Cooperative interactions within the family enhance the capacity for evolutionary change in body size. Nature Ecol Evol 1: 0178.

Rebar D, Greenfield MD. 2017. When do acoustic cues matter? Perceived competition and reproductive plasticity over lifespan in a bushcricket. Anim Behav 128: 41-49.

Barbosa F, Rebar D, Greenfield MD. 2016. Female preference functions drive inter-population divergence in male signalling: call diversity in the bushcricket Ephippiger diurnus. J Evol Biol. 29: 2219-2228.

Rebar D, Rodríguez RL. 2016. Males adjust their signalling behaviour according to experience of male signals and male-female signal duets. J Evol Biol 29: 766-776.

Rebar D, Barbosa F, Greenfield MD. 2016. Acoustic experience influences male and female pre- and postcopulatory behavior in a bushcricket. Behav Ecol 27: 434-443.

Barbosa F, Rebar D, Greenfield MD. 2016. Reproduction and immunity trade-offs constrain mating signals and nuptial gift size in a bushcricket. Behav Ecol 27: 109-117.

Rebar D, Rodríguez RL. 2015. Insect mating signal and mate preference phenotypes covary among host plant genotypes. Evolution 69: 602-610.

Rebar D, Rodríguez RL. 2014. Genetic variation in host plants contributes to variation in the mate preferences of a plant-feeding insect. Amer Nat 184: 489-499.

Rebar D, Rodríguez RL. 2014. Trees to treehoppers: Genetic variation in host plants contributes to variation in the mating signals of a plant-feeding insect. Ecol Lett 17: 203-210.


PhD, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2013)

MS, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, University of California, Riverside (2009)

BA, Biology, Oberlin College (2002)