Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fun with Google Image Search!

I was putting together some slides on female choosiness, and for inspiration for images, I turned to the google. Imagine my suprise to see our own Ashley and Leah smilin' out on the first page! They even beat out peafowl!

Since I have named this screencap "female choosiness", do you think that this picture of a google search will soon show up on google image search when looking for pictures of "female choosiness"?

New Paper published by Long Lab in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology

Hot off the presses (i.e. Early View @ JEB) -->

Variation in male effects on female fecundity in Drosophila melanogaster 

  • Hannah M. Tennant,
  • Erin E. Sonser &
  • Tristan A. F. Long
  • Abstract
    In many species, males have the capacity to directly influence (either positively or negatively) the fitness of their mates and offspring, not only via parental care contributions and/or precopulatory resource provisioning, but also via the post-copulatory activity of those substances passed on to their mates in their ejaculates. Here, we examine how an individual male's identity may be related to phenotypic variation in short-term female fecundity in the model species, Drosophila melanogaster. The effect of male identity on short-term fecundity stimulation of females was repeatable across time and accounted for over a fifth of the total observed phenotypic variation in fecundity in two independent populations. The functional explanations for these results and the implications for our understanding of the factors that contribute to the adaptive significance of mating preferences and/or sexual conflict are discussed.
    For a copy of the paper, please follow the link above, or email me -->

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    Second MSc thesis defended in the Long Lab!

    Congratulations to Adam Lounsbury on the receipt of his MSc! As you can see from the Wordle based on his thesis, Adam's work has focused on the role that body size variation plays in shaping the outcome of mating interactions.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Cut-out Drosophila

    A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to speak to my son's JK class on what behavioural geneticists do. It was tons of fun. We tested hypotheses regarding phototaxis, gravitaxis and food preferences, and discussed the life cycle of Drosophila melanogaster. One of the things I brought with me to enhance the experience were some fruit-fly cut-outs for them to decorate and take home. If you are interested, why not make one yourself? Use brass fasteners to attach the wings.

    Another new face!

    Emily Martin joined our lab in September. She is pursuing her MSc in Integrative Biology. Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of conspecific mate preferences.

    Our older video setup

    To illustrate the difference between our new camera set-up and our old one, here are some pictures from this summer.

    Here, Suzanne & Shipra start the process up by placing females into the test chambers...
    Each chamber is individually labelled, and consists of 4 small sub-chambers that can be loaded with food and males, and a larger chamber in which a female is free to sample these males (who are kept behind a fine  mesh)

     The chambers were mounted on a cork-board
     And filmed on with a camera set to take time-lapse videos....

    New video taping set-up

    To better film female associations, we are experimenting with a variety of different camera rigs. In this configuration, the camera is mounted vertically above the chambers, which are lit from below. A diffusion filter mounted on the underside of the platform ensure even lighting. The main lights in the room are kept dark to reduce potential glare in the camera lens. These videos will then be analyzed using VideoFly software, kindly provided to us by Scott Pletcher.

    Saturday, October 12, 2013

    New Faces in the lab!

    The 2013-2014 academic year has now begun! This year we have two new BI499 Honours Thesis students: Leah DeJong (left) and Ashley Guncay (Right), who will be exploring new facets of the adaptive nature of female choice. Leah is investigating whether genetic variation in female choosiness is associated with direct and or indirect fitness, while Ashley is examining the relationship between attractiveness and offspring immunocompetence.

    First MSc thesis defended in the Long Lab!

    Congratulations to Shawn on the receipt of his MSc! It was a busy year -but it proved to be very rewarding and exciting. With this degree under his belt, Shawn has now moved on to medical school in Limerick.