Research Group Meeting – 15th October
Last night we met for our usual biweekly Research Group meeting, in our new favourite location – the Wallace Pub.
Luc began the meeting by highlighting Dr Jan Lindstrom’s visit to Stirling on the 28th of October to take part in the BES Seminar series. Dr Lindstrom is set to give a talk alliteratively titled “Sexual selection, signalling and senescence in sticklebacks”.
The limelight then fell to Claudia who outlined the motivation behind her dissertation. Claudia’s dissertation is based on a pattern Tom observed whilst carrying out his PhD. By subjecting male crickets to different diet treatments, and controlling access to females across these treatments, Tom was able to show that male calling effort is affected by both these factors. However, it now falls on Claudia, to explain the patterns observed, and to ultimately try and answer the question: Why does the effect of diet on calling activity depend on mate availability?
Claudia presented a number of hypotheses, which she believes may play a part in explaining Tom’s observations, in particular the fact that males have increased calling effort at the beginning of the experiment followed by a sharp decline depending on the exact diet and mate availability combination. One idea is that females may become choosy when exposed to promiscuous males, and males consequently to reduce their calling effort if they sense a female is reluctant to mate. Alternatively, the males may themselves become choosy as they perceive mating opportunities to increase, with their keenness to mate and hence calling effort decreasing as the number of times they mate increases. Tom’s observations may also be explained if the males are running out of energy as the experiment progresses, although the exact processes governing this depletion of resources are probably complex in the light of the interaction between diet and female availability.
Over the coming weeks, Claudia will design an experiment which will give us some insight into the patterns observed by Tom. Further details of the exact experiment planned will be posted as the dissertation progresses.