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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

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Principal investigator
NERC Independent Research Fellow

How does evolutionary conflict shape animal phenotypes?

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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.

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MABEL SYDNEY

PhD student

Mabel is studying sexual conflict and diet preference in fruit flies. Mabel is funded by the ARIES DTP and is co-supervised by Tracey Chapman.

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BOUKE MINK

MSc Molecular Medicine

Bouke's project asks whether male fruit flies can gain from influencing female diet choice.

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AMALIA HERRERA GRAU

Undergraduate student

Lia is studying the consequences of mating for diet choice in male fruit flies.

 

ALUMNI

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PhD student

Dani studied the evolutionary ecology of aggression in fruit flies, funded by the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP at the U of Oxford and co-supervised by Stuart Wigby.

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YASMIN AHMED

MSci student

Yasmin studied vibrational signalling behaviour during aggressive contests between male fruit flies.

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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.

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BOYANG HU

MSc Statistics

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

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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

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REBECCA ROGERS

Undergraduate student

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

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ELLIE JARVIS

UNIQ+ project student

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

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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

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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.

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SEXUAL CONFLICT IN ECOLOGICAL CONTEXT

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

 
 

NEWS

 
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CONGRATULATIONS, YASMIN!

August 2021

Congratulations to Yasmin, who finished her MSci and received a 1st, woohoo! Her project was titled 'Investigating vibrational signalling during male-male aggression in Drosophila melanogaster.'

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ESCAPING THE CHOOSINESS TRAP

June 2021

Ben Hopkins and I wrote a News & Views about a terrific new study in Nature Ecology & Evolution, by Philip Kohlmeier, Jean-Christophe Billeter & colleagues. How can females avoid the choosiness trap? They need to be choosy enough to find the most superior males around, yet not set their standards so high that they reject all suitors. Our News & Views summary is available here - do email me for a pdf if it's paywalled for you.

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HANGRY FRUIT FLIES: OUR NEW PAPER IS OUT

June 2021

Fruit flies: they're just like us. In this paper, the second from Dani's PhD, we show that being deprived of food makes male fruit flies more aggressive to each other. The paper is fully open access in Animal Behaviour here.

Dani was interviewed about it on BBC Breakfast TV, and it was covered in news outlets including these ones:
New Scientist

Daily Mail

Sky News

The Independent


and in science news for kids at CBBC Newsround

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CONGRATULATIONS DR EDMUNDS!

18 March 2021

Very big congratulations to Dani, who defended her PhD! She got the most minor of minor corrections.

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CEEC TWITTER CONFERENCE TALK

24 March 2021

I gave a twitter talk (my first!) as part of UEA's Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation's twitter conference. I covered our recent work on aggression: its plasticity, microevolution and macroevolution
https://twitter.com/jennyperry/status/1374737449105113091

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NEW PAPER: EXPERIMENTAL EVOLUTION OF AGGRESSION

17 March 2021

First paper from Dani's PhD! How are male and female aggression shaped by the intensity of local competition? We evolved flies under male-biased, female-biased, or equal sex ratios, and found that environments with more competition within a sex led to the evolution of more frequent aggression displayed by that sex. Open access publication at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.3053

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TWO STUDENTS JOIN THE GROUP

September 2020

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO BOYANG!

9 Sep 2019

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

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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

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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.

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NEW SEASON, NEW STUDENTS

15 May 2019

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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