Congratulations to Liam & Emily for their paper now accepted for publication in Animal Behaviour on sexual cannibalism and sexual stereotypes. Pop back soon for news of the final published version.
Congratulations to Laura Ross who has just been offered a Marie-Curie fellowship to continue her work on genomic conflict in scale insects. Laura will spend her fellowship in both Brisbane and Oxford. Fantastic news.
If you are interested in coming to work in our lab on the behavioural ecology of insect reproduction, upcoming opportunities will soon be posted. In all cases, the studentships will be awarded competitively following interview. In brief, the possible projects include:
(1) Indirect genetic effects and sex allocation in an aphid-attacking parasitoid wasp (co-funded by the University of St Andrews and the James Hutton Institute): this project will explore how inter-specific indirect genetic effects influence wasp reproductive behaviour and sex allocation. We will test how different genotypes of host plant (potato) influence aphid pests and their parasitoid (Aphidius ervi). We will also test the mechanism of sex determination in Aphidius ervi. This project is in collaboration with Ali Karley at the James Hutton Institute.
(2) Irrational animals (BBSRC-funded in colloboration with Sue Healy, University of St Andrews): this project will compare and contrast rational and irrational decision-making in hummingbirds (in the field in Canada) and Nasonia wasps (in the lab in St Andrews). “Irrational” decision-making refers to decisions that change depending on the context in which the decision is made (e.g. in the presence of irrelevant “decoy” options) and until recently was considered to be only a human trait. Recent work on hummingbirds and some other organisms has debunked that idea, but the idea of irrationality remains controversial and mis-understood outside humans. This project will seek to rectify that with a comparative approach spanning vertebrate and invertebrate model systems.
(3) What are genetic constraints (NERC-funded)? This project will use the well-studied adaptive sex allocation response in the wasp Nasonia vitripennis to explore what we mean by genetic constraints. We will explore the genetic architecture of key reproductive and behavioural traits in Nasonia and explore the extent to which we would expect natural selection to be able to shape them. This will be primarily in terms of recent advances in quantitative genetics, but will link with on-going work in the lab on the molecular genetic basis of sex ratio behaviour in Nasonia, and also provide the opportunity for new behavioural research on Nasonia reproductive behaviour and ecology.
Due to the recent cultural evolution of the extremely sad behaviour of setting up computer programs to trawl websites and send out automated spam postings, I am reluctantly stopping offering interested readers the opportunity of commenting on our news and views via this website. However, we are still happy to receive comments, so if you would like to contact any of the lab members, please use our email addresses. We look forward to hearing from you.
Congratulations to Emily who passed her driving test this morning. Emily successfully dipped for the tape ahead of Liam and Becky, who are now locked in a head-to-head tussle to avoid the learning-to-drive wooden spoon. Next up: Liam…
This week’s paper of the week from Science shows that rainforest bush-crickets have evolved a hearing system remarkably similar to that of mammals.
Montealegre-Z et al (2012) Convergent evolution between insect and mammalian audition. Science 338: 968-971
Keeping up our interest in reproductive interference, here is a recent paper on RI in two species of Harmonia ladybirds.
Noriyuki et al (2012) Asymmetric reproductive interference between specialist and generalist predatory ladybirds. Journal of Animal Ecology 81: 2077-1085