Lots of new news!

Hello everyone,

After a quiet couple of months, lots of lab news to catch up on.

First, a warm welcome to three new MSc(Res) students: Céile Swinton-Boyle, Mélissa Armand, and Joe Hamm. Céile and Joe will be working on sex allocation and other things with Nasonia and possibly Ampulex, whilst Mélissa will be joining Vicki to work on post-copulatory sexual selection in the bugs.

Second, an equally warm welcome to five Honours project students who will working in the lab this year: Sophie Zawadzki (wasps), Amy Knight (CHCs in the bugs), Clea Russell (also with Sue Healy, working on gender biases in student assessment of lecturers), Georgia Kay (sexual selection), and Hannah Wilson (infertility in the wild).

We will be busy – excellent!

Third, we have a couple of manuscripts being revised at the moment, so hopefully news of our next publications to follow very shortly.

Finally, teaching has already started, with Dave and Vicki off doing the Orielton field-course a couple of weeks ago (which again was blessed with pretty good weather), so good luck to everyone for the coming academic year!

Cedric’s first paper

Congratulations to Cedric, who has just had his first paper accepted! Dave and Cedric have written a Quick Guide on Cryptic Male Choice for Current Biology.

We will let you know when the hard-copy version is published. Now for the Bateman Gradient paper…

Congratulations to Liam

Delighted to pass on the great news that ex-grad student Liam Dougherty has just been awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship to carry on his sexual selection work in Liverpool. Lucky Liverpool!

Congratulations Liam!

Peacocks and sexual selection

Dave has just been at a great Royal Society meeting on sexual selection and macroevolution, bringing together behavioural ecologists and palaeontologists for a very thought-provoking and fun discussion.

Best of all – and right on cue – one the local peacock males at Chicheley Hall started displaying during the first coffee break – couldn’t have been better! Still making Darwin sick after all these years…

(And the obligatory team photo below the peacock – thanks to Rob Knell)

Females and speciation

A commentary by Emily and Dave on the comprehensive review of male-male competition and speciation by Tinghitella et al is now out in Behavioural Ecology. Whilst male-male competition should not be ignored as a source of reproductive isolation, mate choice and the role of females will generally also be needed to close the loop and hence lead to speciation.

Our note is here: Burdfield-Steel, E.R. & Shuker, D.M. (2018) Divergence is not speciation, or why we need females: a comment on Tinghitella et al. Behavioral Ecology, ary069.

And the original review is here:


Noodles again

Blast from the past photo of Dave doing fieldwork in Namibia back in 2001. We had to carry all our own food in to the fieldsite, so it was mostly noodles for tea, with a couple of crackers for lunch (I’m not sure Tom Tregenza – behind the camera – has ever been so hungry). The one not stuffing his face is Dan Hoare, who is Head of Regions England for Butterfly Conservation. BC is a fantastic charity, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so if you love your butterflies and indeed any other bug or beastie, do please join and give them your support. I’m proud to say I’ve been supporting for more than 20 years!

Great to see Dan’s article in the latest Butterfly magazine too.If you would like to join Butterfly Conservation, please go here.

Au revoir et bon voyage to Cedric

Au revoir et bon voyage (in Dave’s French accent) to Cedric, who is sadly leaving us after his six-month internship. Gone but not forgotten, we have mountains of data to get through… so watch out for more than one paper with Cedric’s name on it! Good luck in your next position Cedric and thanks for all your hard work and collegiality.

Summer scholar

Delighted to pass on the news that Dani Black will be joining the lab this summer, and summer 2019, as a Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholar. Dani will be working on the bugs as well as experiencing leadership training (not from Dave btw!). More news on Dani’s progress later this year.

New Year, New Papers

Happy New Year from the Shuker lab! We wish everyone all the very best for 2018, hoping that it will be filled with joy, enlightenment, and lots of insects having sex (but mostly enlightenment, given the way of things at the moment).

In other news, two new accepted manuscripts to report. Nicki’s final transcriptomic paper has been accepted in Royal Society Open Science – this paper again confirms that adaptive sex allocation in our wasps does not appear to be associated with much in the way of changes in gene expression – no free lunch here gene-hunters!

And Emily and I have written a comment, now accepted for publication, on an upcoming review in Behavioral Ecology by Tinghitella and colleagues on the role of male-male competition in speciation. Whilst their review is a timely one, Emily and I emphasise that it will be females that typically have the last word when it comes to pre-zygotic reproductive isolation.

Well done team – great start to 2018!