In nature, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. To predict outcomes of environmental change in nature, it is essential to understand impacts within each level of biological organization, as well as to integrate across scales to identify the emergent properties of complex interactions.
The Albecker lab at the University of Houston strives to ask integrative and creative research questions that interlace the diverse components shaping organismal and ecosystem responses to environmental change. We explore physiology, development, demography, and eco-evolutionary dynamics in response to abiotic and biotic drivers using a systems biology perspective. The goal of our research is to develop models (statistical or conceptual) that can predict responses to future environmental change. In general, the Albecker lab uses a combination of field surveys, experimentation, synthesis, and modeling, with a touch of 'omics mixed in. We tend to focus on anuran amphibians (frogs and toads) and aquatic ecosystems, but we will follow where the questions lead!
Currently, a considerable portion of the research in the Albecker lab is dedicated to studying how sea level rise will affect amphibian populations inhabiting coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern Atlantic. While amphibians are commonly associated with freshwater habitats, research has revealed intriguing variability in salt tolerance among amphibian species. We aim to understand how life history and evolutionary history shape amphibian responses to saltwater exposure with a particular focus on physiology, growth, and development within and across life stages. Dr. Molly Womack and I were recently awarded a grant (NSF ORCC #2307832) that will fund these investigations.
Effects of salt exposure on gene expression in epithelial cells in coastal Hyla cinerea populations
Albecker et al. 2021. Molecular Ecology
Effects of different larval environments on mass at metamorphosis and duration of larval period
Albecker et al. 2023. Int. Comp. Biology
Different ways that a complex life cycle can affects evolutionary responses to environmental change
Albecker et al. 2021. Proceeding of Royal Society Biology