New paper, new job, stuff like that

Things have been pretty slow on the updating side (yet again), but I have been busy with THINGS and also STUFF!

I have just had my first research paper (snappily titled ‘Sex differences in the effects of juvenile and adult diet on age-dependent reproductive effort‘) from my PhD published, in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Happily, the review process was really great – the editor (Thomas Flatt) was really helpful, and we had great, constructive reviews from Sue Bertram and Mike Kasumovic (who did sign their reviews, I’m not just outing them!).


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In the paper, we manipulated resource acquisition at both the juvenile and adult stage in male and female crickets, and tracked allocation to age-dependent reproductive effort. Crickets are great for this kind of work, as reproductive effort is easy to quantify for both males and females (not the case in a great many organisms): fecundity (i.e., egg production) in females, and sexual signalling (time spent calling) in males. We investigated how resource acquisition affects allocation to reproductive effort over time, and also how this affects investment in longevity… Not only did we find some interesting results, but I also got to showcase the use of Zero-Altered Poisson (ZAP) models for male signalling! This is a really useful type of statistical analysis, as we can look at two factors within a single model:

  • What factors affect whether a male calls or not (binary ‘0/1’ response)?
  • Given that a male does call (i.e., a ‘1’ in the first part of the model), what factors affect how much he calls?

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I’m currently working on a manuscript which will delve a little deeper into questions of male signalling, using ZAP models but also a pretty cool experimental design that I think has given us some really interesting results (let’s hope the reviewers agree!). I’ll also be talking about this work at the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) conference in Lausanne this August (so hopefully I can get it submitted for publication soon!).

The other big news is that I have finally secured a new research position! I have joined Alastair Wilson’s group at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, and my postdoc will focus on the evolution of stress response. This will entail lots of behavioural work and measuring hormones, as well as some pretty intense stats and quantitative genetics! Also, I’m having to learn about vertebrates, as the study system will be guppies… but don’t worry, I’ll still be tweeting / going on about weird insect sex as much as possible. Everyone’s got to have a hobby.

Other stuff: I’ve had a couple of photos published in scientific journals, which happen to also be really cool papers so worth reading (see links below)! I am also working on a setup to get some good guppy photos ready for my own future talks / papers.

Burying beetle in Schrader et al’s work on using experimental evolution to study adaptations for family life (American Naturalist).

Wasp in Rojas et al’s primer on aposematism (Current Biology).


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