Michael Tobler

Professional Title:

Associate Professor

University, Department, Lab, Etc:

Division of Biology, Kansas State University


Brief Bio:

Ever since childhood, Michi has had a weird obsession with fish and other animals that live in water. Studying biology and becoming a scientist has allowed him to make his passion his profession. Today, Michi primarily studies the ecology and evolution of fish species in Latin America, allowing him to travel to exotic places and observing fish in their natural environments. In addition, Michi studies the genetics, physiology, and behavior of fish in his laboratory at K-State. 

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Current Research Question:

Michi’s work focuses on two specific questions in evolutionary biology: how do organisms adapt to their environment and how do new species arise?

Background on Research:

Throughout Latin America, livebearing fishes are living in naturally toxic freshwater springs. The toxin (hydrogen sulfide) primarily stems from volcanic activity in the area. The big question is how some fish species can tolerate the toxic conditions, while most other species die upon exposure within short periods of time. In addition, the fish in toxic springs have lost their ability to interbreed with closely related species in adjacent non-toxic habitats, which allows investigating how a single species splits into two in the course of evolution.

Overview of Methods Used:

Work in Michi’s lab combines experiments in nature and analyses in the laboratory. We frequently analyze the morphology, physiology, and behavior of live individuals, and we use genetic and biochemical analyses to understand the molecular mechanisms that allows individuals to function the way they do.

Connecting with Michael Tobler:

Michi is available for any interaction that can bring science to K-12 classrooms. Contact him and let him know how he can help.

Let Sunset Zoo’s Behind the Science staff help you connect with Michael Tobler by emailing behindthescience@cityofmhk.com