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INSECT EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY

Our goal is to understand how evolutionary conflicts of interest shape animal lives. We use insects to investigate how conflict between mates, family members and social partners influences adaptation - in behaviour, morphology, life history, gene expression and molecular phenotypes.

We're part of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. 

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Currently recruiting! Please get in touch about studentships and postdoctoral positions.

 

PEOPLE

Principal investigator
NERC Independent Research Fellow

How does evolutionary conflict shape animal phenotypes?

PhD student

Dani is studying the evolutionary ecology of aggression in male fruit flies. She's funded by the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP at the U of Oxford and is co-supervised by Stuart Wigby.

RACHEL LOOS-BENNETT

PhD student

Rachel is studying how UK ladybirds cope with the dual challenges of introduced species and climate change. Rachel is funded by the ARIES DTP in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society and is co-supervised by Helen Roy and Andrew Salisbury.

DAVID YUAN

PhD student

David is studying life history evolution in the fascinating rusty tussock moth. David is based at the U of Oxford and is co-supervised by Jonathan Green and Rob Salguero-Gómez

YASMIN AHMED

MSc student

Yasmin is studying the relationship between diet and mating behaviour in fruit flies.

 

ALUMNI

A few of the great people who've been in the group.. I need to find a moment to update & include more

SOUMYA PANYAM

Project student

Soumya studied how male fruit flies express their genes differently in response to interacting with kin and with females, a summer research project as part of her Integrated Masters degree at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali

LUKE FARNISH

MSc student

Luke used citizen science data to tackle the question of how UK ladybird phenology has changed in recent decades. Luke was co-supervised by Prof Helen Roy.

BOYANG HU

MSc Statistics

Boyang studied approaches to analyzing behavioural data on interactions between two individuals for her MSc in Statistical Science, cosupervised by Christl Donnelly.

REBECCA ROGERS

Undergraduate student

Rebecca studied sexual coevolution in water striders for her final year project.

ELLIE JARVIS

UNIQ+ project student

Ellie studied diet choice in drosophilids for her summer lab project.

SAM EDWARDS

Research assistant

Sam has moved on to a PhD at the University of Copenhagen, but is still involved in writing a manuscript about his studies of signalling behaviour in water striders.

 

RESEARCH

EVOLUTIONARY CONFLICT OVER ANIMAL NUTRITION AND DIET CHOICE

We want to understand how mating impacts nutritional state, and how evolutionary conflict shapes maternal diet choice and nutrition. We are investigating responses to diet in whole-organism phenotypes and molecular metabolomic phenotypes. We're asking these questions using fruit flies.

SEXUAL CONFLICT IN ECOLOGICAL CONTEXT

We are studying how ecological variation influences a sexual arms race in water striders.

 
 

NEWS

 

THREE STUDENTS JOIN THE GROUP

September 2020

Yasmin Ahmed, Rachel Loos-Bennett and David Yuan joined the group. I'm super excited to work with them!

CONGRATULATIONS LUKE!

August 2020

Luke successfully presented his MSc research and completed his dissertation. He documented shifts in phenology in UK ladybirds over recent decades in ways consistent with the UK's changing climate.

NEW PAPER: SEX, MATING AND ANXIETY

4 July 2020

‘Sex peptide’ – a male seminal protein in fruit flies – has big effects on many aspects of female behaviour, including things like aggression, sleep and memory formation. We wondered if sex peptide also regulates female anxiety. Fruit flies are a useful model for studying anxiety, so understanding how male and female anxiety is regulated in these animals might help us understand human anxiety and why anxiety is more common in women than in men.


Jess Thomson tackled this question for her undergraduate project. She used a standard assay of anxious behaviour: the extent to which individuals stick to the perimeter when they’re moving around their environment. It turns out that anxious individuals are more likely do this, in flies, rodents, humans and other animals. In our study, we found no evidence that males and females differed in their anxious behaviour, and no evidence that is influenced by either mating or sex peptide.


These results tell us that anxiety is not part of the big shift in behaviour that occurs after mating in female fruit flies. They also tell us that we need a different animal model to study sex differences in anxiety.

Fully open access in Animal Behaviour!
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347220301391

PHD PROJECT AVAILABLE

Application deadline: 7 Jan 2020 (noon)

We've got a funded PhD position available through the ARIES DTP.

How do UK ladybirds respond to the double whammy of invasive ladybirds + climate change? Come and help find the answers.

A CASE partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society and the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, with cosupervision by Dr. Andrew Salibury (who gets credit for this nice photo) and Prof. Helen Roy.

Details at https://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BVV193/phd-studentship-native-and-invasive-ladybirds-in-a-changing-uk-climate-perry_ubio20aries

Informal enquiries are very welcome!

BLOG POST: SUMMER IN THE FLY LAB

17 Oct 2019

It was super hosting UNIQ+ student Ellie Jarvis for her project on flies, mating and diet. She's written a blog post about her summer of fun with flies.

WE ARE MOVING!

15 Sep 2019

Our lab is moving to the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia!
We'll be based there from Nov 1st, in what is officially one of the UK's most livable and irresistible cities.

CONGRATULATIONS TO BOYANG!

9 Sep 2019

Boyang submitted her MSc report evaluating modelling approaches for dyadic contest data.

FLY LAB SUMMER 2019

18 July 2019

The Oxford Zoology Fly Lab, jointly run with co-conspirator Stu Wigby, of summer 2019. Such a wonderful bunch.

Left to right: Dani, Rachel, Lucy, Ellie J., Stu, Irem, Ben, Ellie B., Jinlin, Thomas & Jen

TWO NEW STUDENTS JOIN THE GROUP

1 July 2019

A gigantic welcome to two new students.

Boyang Hu is completing her MSc in applied statistics and is working out robust ways to analyze dyadic contest data. Boyang is cosupervised by Christl Donnelly.

Ellie Jarvis is here for a summer research project as part of the UNIQ+ programme. Ellie is studying diet choice in several drosophilids.

NEW SEASON, NEW STUDENTS

15 May 2019

A big enthusiastic welcome to Austin, Joe, Julia and Rebecca, joining the lab for their undergraduate projects.

PHD PROJECT AVAILABLE

Application deadline 28 May 2019

How do UK ladybirds respond to the double whammy of invasive ladybirds + climate change? PhD position available - come and help find the answers.

A CASE partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society and the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, with cosupervision by Dr. Andrew Salibury and Prof. Helen Roy.

Details at https://www.environmental-research.ox.ac.uk/case-studentships/industrial-case-projects-available-for-2019-entry/native-and-invasive-ladybirds-in-a-changing-u-k-climate/

Informal enquiries welcome - email Jen

NEW PAPER OUT

January 2019

Our new paper, led by Juliano Morimoto and Grant McDonald, is out in Nature Communications here. Press release here.


In this study, we tested the idea that a higher female mating rate changes how sexual selection acts on males. We used fruit flies where females were genetically engineered to mate more often, such that we could experimentally control mating rate. We found that sexual selection was indeed changed by how often females mated. When they mated more, selection shifted to be stronger on post-copulatory traits that help males achieve fertilization, and weaker on pre-copulatory traits that help males achieve mating.

PHD PROJECTS AVAILABLE

Application deadline 25 Jan 2019

Three projects available. Please get in touch to discuss other projects of mutual interest.

(1) Evolutionary Conflict Over Maternal Diet

Explore the extent of evolutionary conflict between females, males and offspring over maternal diet, and the consequences of conflict for what mothers eat.

Cosupervised by Stuart Wigby.

(2) Food, Sex and the Metabolome

This project will investigate how diet composition and mating rate interact to affect molecular nutritional condition, measured through metabolomic profiling.

Cosupervised by Stuart Wigby.

(3) Native and Invasive Ladybirds in a Changing U.K. Climate

This studentship will investigate effects of climate change on native ladybird behaviour and physiology, and how these effects impact interactions with the invasive Harlequin ladybird.

A CASE partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society and the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, with cosupervision by Dr. Andrew Salibury and Prof. Helen Roy.

SAM EDWARDS JOINS THE GROUP

January 2019

Sam will examine how water striders send and receive signals through the water surface.

CONTACT INFO

School of Biological Sciences
University of East Anglia
Norwich  NR4 7TU

jennifer.perry [at] uea.ac.uk

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