Research

We are interested in the evolution of reproductive behaviour, particularly in insects. We use our studies of insect reproduction to try and explain the tremendous diversity of insect strategies we see around us, and also to try and uncover general principles of adaptive evolution. Our work has focused on sexual selection, sexual conflict, and sex allocation.

In the lab at the moment our research focuses on sex allocation and the evolution of multiple mating in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis (pictured) and also sexual conflict and inter-species reproductive interference among five species of lygaeid seed bug. We mix behavioural experiments, ecological fieldwork, theoretical modelling, and genetic analysis to explore the evolutionary causes and consequences of variation in reproductive and sexual behaviour.

Previous insects that David and the lab have worked on include (in rough chronological order): butterflies (from the Natural History Museum to the North Wales coast); the damselfly Calopteryx splendens; the seaweed fly Coelopa frigida; the beetle Psilothrix viridicoeruleus; the mediterranean fruit-fly Ceratitis capitata; the meadow grasshopper Chorthippus paralellus; the two-spot ladybird Adalia bipunctata; the mealybug Planococcus citri. Further additions to this list are always welcome, and may even include Drosophila one of these days.

David has also done a little bit of general insect ecology (in Bolivia and Namibia) and has also worked on humans and thought about puzzles in coevolution (especially hosts and parasites and immune systems).