Liam Dougherty

Liam Dougherty

NERC PhD Student

Brief CV

2007-2011: MBiol. University of Liverpool, U.K.

2011-Present: PhD candidate, University of St Andrews, U.K.



Google Scholar profile

ResearchGate profile

Press for our sexual cannibalism paper here and here

Press for our bug penis paper here, here and here


Research interests

I am interested broadly in animal social behaviour and evolutionary ecology, focusing on interactions between the sexes and also between predators and prey.

My current research has two main focuses. In the first I look at how the social context, such as the number of mate options available, influences the strength of sexual selection and mating preferences. I have used the seed bug Lygaeus equestris to test whether both pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection on morphological traits is influenced by the number of mate options individuals are presented with. I have also used meta analysis to examine this pattern across species.

My second focus is the evolution of animal genitalia. I have used experimental manipulation, selection analysis and 3D imaging techniques to try to determine the function of the elongate male genitalia in Lygaeus simulans, and the mechanisms that have led to its evolution.

Male external genitalia

Micro-CT scan showing external genitalia of Lygaeus simulans following mating. The long penis can be seen in pink, and the paired claspers in blue.


  1. Greenway, E.V., Dougherty, L.R. & Shuker, D.M. (2015) Mating failure. Current Biology, in press.
  2. Dougherty, L.R., Rahman, I.A., Burdfield-Steel, E.R, Greenway, E.V. & Shuker, D.M. (2015) Experimental reduction of intromittent organ length reduces male reproductive success in a bug. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B, 282: 201507824.
  3. Dougherty, L.R. & Shuker, D.M. (2015) Mate choice and mating decisions: A response to comments on Dougherty & Shuker. Behavioral Ecology, 26: 326-327.
  4. Dougherty, L.R. & Shuker, D.M. (2015) The effect of experimental design on the measurement of mate choice: a meta-analysis. Behavioral Ecology, 26: 311-319.
  5. Dougherty, L.R. & Shuker, D.M. (2014) Pre-copulatory sexual selection in the seed bug Lygaeus equestris: a comparison of choice and no-choice paradigms. Animal Behaviour, 89: 207-214.
  6. Burdfield-Steel, E.R., Dougherty, L.R., Smith, L.A., Collins, L.A. & Shuker, D.M.(2013) Variation in social and sexual behaviour in four species of aposematic seed bugs (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae): the role of toxic and non-toxic food. Behavioural Processes, 99: 52-61.
  7. Dougherty, L.R., †Burdfield-Steel, E.R. & Shuker, D.M. (2013) Sexual stereotypes: the case of sexual cannibalism. Animal Behaviour, 85: 313-322. († Liam and Emily contributed equally to this paper)


Click the links below for videos showing our 3D reconstructions of Lygaeus simulans internal and external genitalia (courtesy of Imran Rahman).




Additional images

SEM images of the tip of the penis in Lygaeus simulans.

3D mesh file showing a single male clasper of Lygaeus simulans.