Lisa Limeri, PhD Student

I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the Morehouse lab studying the interaction between mate choice and color polymorphism, using butterflies as a study system. I am also broadly interested in communicating science to non-scientists, including government advocacy, public outreach, and education. I am interested in conducting education research to improve STEM education focusing on the university level. I completed my B.S. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and behavior Binghamton University. In my spare time I create science-inspired artwork and rock climb.

2012-present, Ph.D. Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, PA

2008-2012, B.S. Biological Sciences, Concentration in Ecology, Evolution and Beahvior, Minor in Binghamton Scholars, Certificate in Evolutionary Studies, SUNY Binghamton, NY

Current Research

My current research focuses on how visual system limitations, learning, and community composition influence mate choice in a group of polymorphic butterflies. I am interested in the ecological consequences of phenotypic overlap between species that look similar. I study these consequences in a system of polymorphic butterflies in which a white female morph (termed the ‘alba’ morph) resembles other species more than the other yellow female morph (non-‘alba’ morph). I have demonstrated that phenotypic overlap between the ‘alba’ female morph and other co-occurring species may make it difficult for males to discriminate ‘alba’ females from other species, but not the phenotypically distinct yellow female morph (Limeri & Morehouse 2014). I am currently exploring what significance this may have for mate choice in extant populations. I am also interested in how the community of co-occurring species influences male mate choice in these butterflies via plastic, learned preferences.

Prior Research

As an undergraduate, I developed my interest for research in Dr. Curt Pueschel’s laboratory studying the presence of crystals, thought to be calcium oxalate, in brown algae. These structures were previously not well described and their function unknown. I surveyed species of brown algae for these crystals. I also searched for their function by attempting to induce crystal formation via different stressors (heat stress, physical stress, etc.).

After one year in this lab I pursued my interest in behavioral ecology in Dr. Anne Clark’s lab where I studied foraging and caching strategies in captive American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). This study investigated how crows remember the location of cached food stores. We investigated whether crows use specific aspects of their environment as landmarks by observing how moving objects in their enclosure affects their ability to locate previously cached food. In this lab, I also studied informal public education via informational signage at zoo exhibits.


Limeri, L.B., and Morehouse, N.I. 2016. The evolutionary history of the ‘alba’ polymorphism in the butterfly sub-family Coliadinae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 117(4):716-724. PDFSupplemental Material

Limeri, L.B. and Morehouse, N.I. 2014. Sensory limitations and the maintenance of color polymorphisms: Viewing the ‘alba’ female polymorphism through the visual system of male Colias butterfliesFunctional Ecology28(5), 1197-1207. PDF

Lariviere, A., Limeri, L.B., Meindl, G.A. and Traw, B.M. 2014. Herbivory and relative growth rates of Pieris rapae are correlated with host constitutive salicylic acid concentration and flowering time. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 41(4), 350-359.