Aaron P. Wagner

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All animals harbor beneficial microbes. One way these microbes can benefit their animal hosts is by increasing the diversity and efficacy of communication signals available to the hosts. The fermentation hypothesis for mammalian chemical communication posits that bacteria in the scent glands of mammals generate odorous metabolites used by their hosts for(More)
"It is hard to realize that the living world as we know it is just one among many possibilities" [1]. Evolving digital ecological networks are webs of interacting, self-replicating, and evolving computer programs (i.e., digital organisms) that experience the same major ecological interactions as biological organisms (e.g., competition, predation,(More)
Exposures to sex steroids during fetal development are thought to contribute to the unique urogenital anatomy and social dominance of the female spotted hyena: overt phenotypes not shared by other hyenids (i.e. striped hyena, brown hyena, and aardwolf). Because both androgens and estrogens influence development of genitalia and behavior, and because plasma(More)
We investigated patterns of relatedness and reproduction in a population of striped hyenas in which individuals are behaviourally solitary but form polyandrous spatial groups consisting of one adult female and multiple adult males. Group-mate males were often close relatives, but were unrelated or distantly related in some cases, indicating that male(More)
Rabies virus (RV) and canine distemper virus (CDV) can cause significant mortality in wild carnivore populations, and RV threatens human lives. We investigated serological patterns of exposure to CDV and RV in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas), spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta),(More)
Current theory suggests that many signaling systems evolved from preexisting cues. In aposematic systems, prey warning signals benefit both predator and prey. When the signal is highly beneficial, a third species often evolves to mimic the toxic species, exploiting the signaling system for its own protection. We investigated the evolutionary dynamics of(More)
Navigation strategies represent some of the most intriguing examples of complex and intelligent behaviors in nature. Accordingly, they have been the focus of extensive research in animal behavior and in evolutionary robotics. However, engineering successes in harnessing the evolutionary dynamics that shape sophisticated navigation strategies remain limited.(More)
Standing genetic variation and the historical environment in which that variation arises (evolutionary history) are both potentially significant determinants of a population's capacity for evolutionary response to a changing environment. Using the open-ended digital evolution software Avida, we evaluated the relative importance of these two factors in(More)
Predator-prey coevolution is commonly thought to result in reciprocal arms races that produce increasingly extreme and complex traits. However, such directional change is not inevitable. Here, we provide evidence for a previously undemonstrated dynamic that we call strategy chases, wherein populations explore strategies with similar levels of complexity,(More)
The highly masculinized genitalia of female spotted hyenas Crocuta crocuta is unique among mammals: Crocuta have no external vagina so urination, penile intromission and parturition take place through the clitoris, which mimics a fully erectile male penis. Among hyenids, virilization of external female genitalia has previously been observed only in Crocuta,(More)