Research Group Meeting: 29th of October 2013
Dr Luc Bussière, Dr Timothy Paine, Elizabeth Herridge, Thomas Houslay, Toby Hector, Sam Paterson, Claudia Santori, Hazel Smith, Gregor Hogg
Our bi-weekly research meetings continued last night at the William Wallace with a number of interesting topics and surprising revelations such as: ‘I got Hep B in Croy’ from Dr Paine, ‘Twitchers are crazy’ from Lilly and ‘We build houses’ from Luc as a rebuttal on the subject of behavioural response to poor environments.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the above may have been taken wildly out of context.
‘From egg to dead’
The centre of discussion was of Hazel’s summer research project looking at the effect of different life history traits on phenology in dance flies. This impressive undertaking involved her designing a model to test a range of life history parameters (with regards to longevity, mating frequency and physiology) with the hope of making some predictions that could be tested experimentally.
So far her work has focused on getting the model up and running with the aim now to test the rest of the life history parameters. As is often the case, the current model design is very complex but Dr Paine made some helpful suggestions on model simplification such as eliminating aspects of functions that include random variation (for example, in nuptial gift size) and on running sensitivity analysis.
We followed Hazel’s coherent presentation with a fuzzy discussion on plasticity. It got deep. It got so deep in fact that your humble scribe does not feel entirely comfortable leading you down the contorted and abstract path that followed. If you’re really keen though have a look at this paper by Samuel Scheiner on the genetics of phenotypic plasticity that Tom recommended. If that wasn’t enough, have a look at this paper by Emilie Snell-Rood on the costs and benefits of phenotypic plasticity, or there is always ol’ trusty!
‘Yes, surprisingly I am still married…’
Next Tom showing us some cool results from ‘his’ (Tom’s words not mine Mrs Houslay) work on the effect of diet on the chemical composition of male decorated crickets. An arduous undertaking but with some promising implications for his research.
‘Tessellation, a cool word to use when neatly packing your fridge’
We finished up with a discussion on the physics of eyes as Toby presented some problems on the size of facets in some male dance flies.
Any other business:
There was a quick tactical discussion on how to peer pressure Lilly’s sister into presenting her work to the group during her visit. She’s doing some interesting work on dwarf elephants in the Mediterranean, she must be so jealous she’s not studying flies in Scotland! I would also suggest having a look at a short video from the Quirks & Quarks podcast.
Finally Luc proposed a research group Movember team effort extravaganza with a clean shave group photo scheduled for Friday. Movember for those who don’t know is a charity that is based around the noble art of growing a moustache. Lilly, Hazel and Claudia clearly felt left out of this discussion but not to worry as ‘Mosistas’ are considered an integral part of the event!