Helen Rodd
Professor & EEB Associate Graduate Chair
MSc (Toronto); PhD (York U); Postdoctoral Fellowships (Florida State U, UC Davis).  See below for a brief C.V.

My main interests are in reproductive strategies: life history traits and sexual behaviour.

I study the role of frequency dependent selection (rare male advantage and predator search image) in maintaining the extreme, genetically-based variation in the colour patterns of male guppies. Other projects look at the role of sensory bias in mate choice decisions of female guppies, other poeciliids, goodeids and related species.  I have also studied the ways in which individuals adjust their reproductive strategies to the behaviour and population demography (e.g., sex ratio, density) of conspecifics.  My students, postdocs and I have investigated these questions in guppies and their relatives in the lab and in natural populations in Trinidad.

Current graduate students and recently graduated students:

Mitch Daniel – PhD

Behavioural Consequences and Proximate Mechanisms of Kin Recognition in the Trinidadian Guppy (Poecilia reticulataMitch is now a postdoc in Kim Hughes’ lab at Florida State University.

Alex De Serrano PhD Candidate

The trans-generational epigenetic effects of methylphenidate on behaviour and morphology: Alex is an NSERC- and OGS-funded PhD candidate in the Rodd lab. She is interested in understanding the role that the environment can have on the phenotype of an organism, both within individuals and across generations. For her thesis, she is exploring the epigenetic effects of dopamine manipulation on the morphology and behaviour of Trinidadian guppies. To do this, she employed a large, trans-generational experiment in the lab, and coupled this with field observations. For more information, see her website: and LinkedIn profile :

Ben Downer-Bartholomew – PhD

Ben is PhD candidate working in the Rodd lab. He is interested in trait evolution, specifically traits involved in visual signaling and communication within a species. He is also interested the evolution of mating preferences and the secondary sex traits associated with these preferences. Currently, Ben is using mate preference experiments to see if females of uncolourful (‘ugly’) species have a mate choice preference for males with long wavelength (orange, red, yellow) colouration.

michael-foisyMichael Foisy – MSc

Phylogenetic and Experimental Evidence for an Evolutionary Precursor toMale Colouration in Poeciliid Fishes and Their Relatives:  Michael was an NSERC-funded MSc student working jointly in the Mahler and Rodd labs. He is interested in co-evolution, trait evolution, and comparative methods. Michael used phylogenetic models and experiments to explore how female mating biases may precede, and subsequently facilitate, the evolution of male ornaments in poeciliid and related fishes. Michael also has a fondness for bees.

Anna Li
  – PhD Candidate
Maintaining genetic variation: Frequency dependent male reproductive tactics in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata).

Please see the Lab Alumni page for former students and postdoctoral fellows.


Helen Rodd’s Brief C.V.

2010-Present Full Professor
Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

2003-2010 Associate Professor
Dept. of Zoology/Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

1998-2003 Assistant Professor
Dept. of Zoology, University of Toronto

1996-1998 Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA
Supervisors: Drs. J.A. Stamps, M.L. Stanton

1994-1996 NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow
Dept. of Biological Science, Florida State University, FL
Supervisor: Dr. J. Travis

Ph.D. 1994 Biology Department, York University, Toronto
Phenotypic plasticity in the life history traits and sexual behaviour of Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata) in response to their social environment.
Supervisor: Dr. M.B. Sokolowski

M.Sc. 1982 Zoology Department, University of Toronto
A selective removal experiment on the meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus.
Supervisor: Dr. R. Boonstra