I am an evolutionary and behavioural ecologist broadly interested in the evolutionary drivers of animal appearances. In particular, my research focuses on how optimal animal phenotypes can evolve as a result of particular (or multiple) selection pressures. I am interested in both natural and sexual selection, and am especially keen to understand the evolutionary drivers of phenotypic diversity, which can result in animal appearances that range from wonderfully cryptic to stunningly conspicuous. My dissertation research focused on understanding how the diverse face patterns of guenons (forest monkeys in Africa) have evolved as mate recognition signals that function to promote reproductive isolation in mixed-species groups. Throughout the course of my PhD I was also involved in multiple projects assessing primate colouration and sexual selection. Currently, I am researching how best to conceal a 3D animal in different types of visual scenes, and how selection for crypsis in variable habitats can promote phenotypic diversity.
I graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor of Science in 2008 and from Central Washington University with a Master of Science in 2011. My PhD was supervised by James Higham in the Primate Reproductive Strategies lab at New York University, where I completed my dissertation entitled “Guenon face patterns and the maintenance of reproductive isolation” in 2019.
I am currently a Research Associate in the Camo Lab working on the BBSRC funded project “Concealing 3D objects”.
Winters, S., Allen, W. L. & Higham, J. P. 2020. The structure of species discrimination signals across a primate radiation. eLife 9, e47428.
Young, M. M. I., Winters, S., Young, C., Weiß, B. M., Troscianko, J., Ganswindt, A., Barrett, L., Henzi, S. P., Higham, J. P. & Widdig, A. 2020. Male characteristics as predictors of genital color and display variation in vervet monkeys. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 74, 14.
Winters, S., Petersdorf, M. & Higham, J. P. 2019. Charles Darwin and Selection in Relation to Sex in the Colors of Monkeys. In: Darwin's Roadmap to the Curriculum: Evolutionary Studies in Higher Education. Wilson, D. S., Geher, G., Mativetsky, H. & Gallup, A. C. (eds.). Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 97-116.
Rigaill, L., Higham, J. P., Winters, S. & Garcia, C., 2019. The redder the better? Information content of red skin coloration in female Japanese macaques. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 73, 103.
Winters, S 2018. Aposematism. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T. (eds.). Springer, Cham.
Dominy, N. J., Winters, S., Pease, D. E. & Higham, J. P. 2018. Dr Seuss and the real Lorax. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 1196-1198.
Winters, S. 2018. Ornamentation. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T. (eds.). Springer, Cham
Petersdorf, M., Dubuc, C., Georgiev, A. V., Winters, S. & Higham, J. P. 2017. Is male rhesus macaque facial coloration under intrasexual selection? Behavioral Ecology 28, 1472-1481.
Rigaill, L., MacIntosh, A. J. J., Higham, J. P., Winters, S., Shimizu, K., Mouri, K., Suzumura, T., Furuichi, T. & Garcia, C. 2017. Testing for links between face color and age, dominance status, parity, weight, and intestinal nematode infection in a sample of female Japanese macaques. Primates 58, 83-91.
Higham, J. P. & Winters, S. 2016. Color and mate choice in non-human animals. In: Handbook of Color Psychology. Elliot, A. J. & Fairchild, M. D. (eds.). Cambridge University Press, pp. 502-530.
Dubuc, C., Allen, W. L., Cascio, J., Lee, D. S., Maestripieri, D., Petersdorf, M., Winters, S. & Higham, J. P 2016. Who cares? Experimental attention biases provide new insights into a mammalian sexual signal. Behavioral Ecology 27, 68-74.
Rigaill, L., MacIntosh, A. J. J., Higham, J. P., Winters, S., Shimizu, K., Mouri, K., Furuichi, T. & Garcia, C. 2015. Multimodal advertisement of pregnancy in free-ranging female Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata). PLoS ONE. 10, e0135127
Winters, S., Dubuc, C. & Higham, J. P 2015. Perspectives: The Looking Time experimental paradigm in studies of animal vsual perception and cognition. Ethology 121, 625-640.
Dubuc, C., Winters, S., Allen, W. L., Brent, L. J. N., Cascio, J., Maestripieri, D., Ruiz-Lambides, A. V., Widdig, A. & Higham, J. P. 2014. Sexually selected skin colour is heritable and related to fecundity in a non-human primate. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281, 20141602.