Karen Crow


Warning message

Missing Feeds plugin DateiCalFeedsParser. Please contact your site administrator.
Photo of Karen Crow
Associate Professor of Biology
Evolution and ecology of fishes, Ichthyology
(415) 405-2760


In my research I use molecular approaches to understand the evolutionary forces that generate biological diversity, novelty, and reproductive isolation in fishes. My recent work has focused on a family of genes that specify body plan features-the Hox genes. Specifically, I have focused on the molecular evolution of HoxA11 and HoxA13 in ray-finned fishes, Hox cluster duplication in teleosts, and the putative relationship between genome duplication and the evolution of complexity and diversity in vertebrates. Based on this work, I  hypothesized that genome duplication may be an important factor in reduced probability of extinction. Other projects include investigating the role of Hox genes in the evolution and development of novel morphological domains such as  claspers in cartilaginous fishes, distally elongated fields in batoid fins, brood pouch in male pipefish (and relatives), paddlefish barbels, and distal elements in the gut of zebrafish and gobies. Additional projects in the lab are centered on aspects of reproductive strategies including the evolution of female Bateman gradients in surfperches (Embiotocidae), multiple embryos per egg capsule in skates of the genus Raja, and the evolution of plasticity in sex allocation in the simultaneous hermaphroditic gobies of the genus Lythrypnus. In previous work, I have investigated questions varying in scale from paternity to genomics in ray-finned fishes, including genetic differentiation of sub-populations for conservation designation, and estimating phylogenetic relationships.  I have looked at conflict between hybridization and the maintenance of species boundaries, genomic conflicts associated with mechanisms of speciation, and alternative life history strategies including parental care, variation in courtship rituals, sexual selection, and sex allocation in hermaphrodites to evaluate how these strategies may contribute to species diversity. While my research spans a range of topics, the underlying theme is to understand the evolutionary processes that contribute to the evolution of novelty and diversity.
Selected Publications:
Healy Hamilton, Norah Saarman, Graham Short, Beth Moore, Tinya Hoang, Chris Grace, Martin Gomon, Karen Crow, W. Brian Simison. 2016. Molecular phylogeny and patterns of diversification in syngnathid fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. In press
Sophie Archambeault, Julia Taylor, Karen D. Crow. 2014. HoxA and HoxD expression in a variety of vertebrate body plan features reveals an ancient origin for the reverse collinear expression pattern. EvoDevo 5:44 (19 November 2014).
Sophie Archambeault, Eric Ng, Lyle Rapp, David Cerino, Bradford Bourque, Tessa Solomon-Lane, Matthew S. Grober, Andrew Rhyne, and Karen D. Crow. 2014. Reproduction, larviculture, and early development of the Bluebanded goby, Lythrypnus dalli, an emerging model organism for studies in evolutionary developmental biology and sexual plasticity. Aquaculture Research. doi:10.1111/are.12648. Online 1-5-15
John R. LaBrecque, Yvette R. Alva-Campbell, Sophie Archambeault, Karen D. Crow. 2014. Multiple paternity is a shared reproductive strategy in the live-bearing surfperches (Embiotocidae) that may be associated with female fitness. Ecology and Evolution. 4(12) 2316-2329.
Kelcie Chiquillo, David A. Ebert, Christina Slager, Karen D. Crow. 2014. The secret of the mermaid's purse: Phylogenetic affinities within the Rajidae and the evolution of a novel reproductive strategy in skates. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 75 (2014) 245–251.
Crow, Karen D., Christopher D. Smith, Jan-Fang Cheng, Günter P. Wagner and Chris T. Amemiya. 2012. An independent genome duplication inferred from Hox paralogs in the American paddlefish-a representative basal ray-finned fish and important comparative reference. Genome Biology and Evolution.  
Jessica M. Maxfield, James L. Van Tassell, Colette M. St. Mary, Jean-Christophe Joyeux, Karen D. Crow.  2012.  Extreme gender flexibility: Using a phylogenetic framework to infer the evolution of variation in sex allocation, phylogeography, and speciation in a genus of bidirectional sex changing fishes (Lythrypnus, Gobiidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 64 (2012) 416–427.
Crow, Karen D., Hiroyuki Munehara, Giacomo Bernardi.  2010. Sympatric speciation in a genus of marine reef fishes.  Molecular Ecology. 19:10 2089-2105.