EAGER: Cavefishes of the Guangxi Karst Region in China

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Title: EAGER: Cavefishes of the Guangzi Karst Region in China

Investigator: Soares, Daphne

Project Number: IOS 1048820

This research plan investigates how animals adapt to new environments. Specifically, the proposal examines how evolution has changed the sensory modalities that allow vertebrates to thrive in the perpetual world of darkness found in caves. Do species adapt in their own way or there are rules that they must follow? Is there interplay between sensory modalities during evolution? How are nervous systems constrained by their environment? These questions are especially interesting in caves because the harsh quality of the environment provide unique insights into the malleability of nervous systems over time. This proposal compares the behavior, neuroanatomy and genes of many species of cavefishes. These animals have a diverse phylogeny and various completely unrelated species have independently colonized caves all over the world. Examining unrelated animals can point towards general rules of evolution and comparative studies create an intellectual framework for the study of adaptation. China contains the majority of reported cavefishes in the literature and this project funds preliminary work between the University of Maryland and the Shanghai Ocean University. Researchers and students will be examining rare, unique and often undescribed species of cavefish in the Guangxi autonomous region. Aside from studying the organisms themselves results are likely to uncover conservational issues that may impact the long term survival of these animals. This proposal not only addresses unique biological questions in possibly endangered species, establishes a new international collaboration, but also creates a venue for undergraduate students to learn essential aspects of Biology.

Effective start/end date10/1/109/30/13


  • National Science Foundation: $16,450.00


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