Category Archives: Publications
This week Biology Letters published a short opinion piece by Sara Lewis and colleagues (including me) on the state of play for research on nuptial gifts in animals. Substances transferred from one mating partner to another are not limited to gametes, and this piece tries to clarify the conceptual significance of this behaviour and stimulate productive future research by carefully defining what a nuptial gift is and clarifying different categories of gifts on the basis of their source and transmission mode. The piece is described for a more popular audience here.
Edit Apr 7: added cool pictures from Ellie.
Research group alumnus Ellie Rotheray (who defended her PhD last year) has recently had yet another of her thesis chapters published in the Journal of Insect Conservation. The experiment in question involved a lot of painstaking field work marking and recapturing the rare aspen hoverfly, Hammerschmidtia ferruginea, and observing the dispersal patterns and territorial behaviour of adults.
Our conclusions are sometimes necessarily tentative, but in spite of this I think they provide invaluable natural history details of the kind so rarely found in modern scientific studies, but which are crucial for both fundamental life history research and applied conservation efforts. I’ve included a sample (in the form of our Fig 3) below. Comments or requests for early view reprints are most welcome!
After a long slog, my colleague Claudia Buser (now in New Zealand) and I (along with our late supervisor from Zurich, Paul Ward) have gone to press at Functional Ecology with her (I think I am allowed to say so) excellent work on maternal plasticity in yellow dung flies.
This photo (by an old mate from Zurich, Roland Gautier) shows yellow males perched above ovipositing olive-coloured females on a dung pat. We experimentally studied whether female perceptions of the conditions their larvae would encounter affected larval fitness. I won’t spoil the punchline, but females are very clever, obviously. Nevertheless, we found no evidence that they are doing anything funny via sperm choice….