Neurobiology and Behavior Faculty Research
Professor and Chair
For much of my academic career I have researched how chemosensory stimuli drives behaviors in decapod crustaceans including crabs and lobsters. More recently my lab has been researching how animals without a central nervous system (starfish) are capable of performing directed behaviors such as righting behavior. We have also been studying the distribution of native and invasive crayfish on Long Island with a goal of understanding behavioral and ecological interactions between invasive and native species. Finally I am interested in the behavioral and ecology of brook trout on Long Island. This species were the only native salmonids on Long Island until they virtually disappeared from the area in the last century. In recent years there have been efforts to reintroduce the species. I have received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to study the movements of juvenile brook trout in a habitat that hosts one of the few spawning populations on Long Island.
I am interested in elucidating the ecological constraints that favor the evolution of complex parental-care behaviors. My model organisms include several subsocial heteropteran insects. Parental care beyond laying eggs in an appropriate substrate is very rare in insects outside the two truly social orders that include bees, wasps, ants, and termites. The species I work with display extended parental care that includes a variety of complex behaviors, ranging from guarding of the egg mass in a burrow to producing trophic eggs (unfertilized eggs that newly hatched offspring can feed on) and repeatedly transporting food from the host-tree area to the nest for the young. Manipulation studies in the field and the laboratory are used to evaluate the impact of a variety of ecological conditions on the manifestation of these behaviors. With the establishment of a coyote population on Long Island imminent, Dr. Filippi looks forward to carrying out future studies on parental care behaviors on these 'coywolves', which should be a blend of coyote and wolf behaviors. Dr. Filippi and her students will engage in pre-establishment education/advocacy on Long Island.
I am a neuroscientist whose research is exceptionally integrative and encompasses many disciplines, including microgenomics, molecular neurophysiology, endocrinology and behavior. I have investigated gene networks, neural networks, neurogenesis, and hormonal mechanisms associated with mate preference behavior in three popular model systems; songbirds, fish and frogs. I am particularly interested in measuring activity-dependent gene expression to examine neurophysiological responses. I have used these genes to answer questions on a variety of levels: from simply marking a neuron's response to a stimulus, to co-localizing these genes with markers that identify cell phenotype, to employing catFISH (compartmental analysis of temporal florescent in situ hybridization) to increase the power of the immediate early gene approach to assess neural activity.
Assistant Professor and Graduate Director
My research goals are to understand the ecological and physiological constraints that underlie animal behavior. From an ecological perspective, I explore behavioral paradigms to provide functional explanations for behavior to reveal evolutionary patterns across taxa. From a physiological perspective, I manipulate and quantify hormones underlying these behaviors to explore hormone function in the context of adaptive behavior. I utilize both laboratory and field studies to explore the ecological context of behavior in fish and other aquatic systems. My field and ecology work has also included local systems like horseshoe crabs including their spawning habits and habitat, and effects of local toxicity. My integrative approach in behavior, neurophysiology, and ecology and the use of taxa with various mating systems, both in the lab and field, provides research opportunities for students with a wide variety of interests and career goals.
I consider myself to be an ecologist who integrates molecular ecology, behavioral ecology, evolution, and population biology to address fundamental questions at the interface of ecology and conservation of vertebrates. I combine field observations, field experiments, modeling techniques, and laboratory analyses to answer specific questions at the organismal, population, and species level. Much of my research has focused on the population ecology, evolution, and behavior of mammals, primarily ungulates, due to my interest in how genetic polymorphism is maintained in natural populations as influenced by mating system, social behavior, and population dynamics. Although much of my research has revolved around the wild South American camelids, I am not restricted to the study of any one taxon. Rather, I strive to ask interesting and relevant questions regarding conservation, ecology, and evolution.
Faculty Research: All Biology Faculty