Centre for Evolutionary Biology

Postgraduate researchers

Further information

Research at CEB

The Centre is supporting the research of local and international postgraduate students.

Tabitha Rudin-Bitterli
PHD Student
The drying conditions in the South West region of Australia are a growing challenge for many amphibians, particularly for species that deposit their eggs on land. My PhD project will use a quantitative genetics approach to assess whether genetic adaptation and/or phenotypic plasticity could enable terrestrial-breeding frogs to adapt to the predicted changes in rainfall. I will furthermore explore whether genetic translocations could be used to assist the adaptation of at-risk populations to drier breeding environments.
Nadia Sloan
PHD Student
My research project will examine biodiversity and speciation of short-range endemic millepedes from the genus Antichiropus. Specifically, I will examine coevolutionary divergence in male and female genital morphology, among species and populations, in order to understand the mechanisms behind reproductive isolation and its role in speciation.
Kathryn Holmes
 
PHD Student
Reproductive cooperation between unrelated males is uncommon, particularly in the form of long-term alliances, and its ontogeny is not well understood. I am interested in how alliance partnerships develop, including the vocal and physical behaviour that mediates them, and what effects early social networks have on future adult reproductive success. In Shark Bay, WA, male bottlenose dolphins form three levels of nested alliances: long-term partnerships with unrelated males that are crucial to their reproductive success. My PhD research will use this system to improve our understanding of juvenile social development and its influence on future male reproductive success.
Joe Moschilla
PHD Student
My research will be looking at individual differences in behaviour in the Australian field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. I am mainly interested in the environmental mechanisms responsible for fluctuations in behaviour, and the potential for transgenerational effects on offspring behaviour. Furthermore, I will be examining the fitness benefits associated with behavioural variation and the evolutionary consequences of consistent individual differences in behaviour.
Kara Layton
PHD Student
My PhD work explores the evolutionary relationships of two marine gastropod groups using molecular phylogenetics. Chromodoris is a genus of toxic nudibranch and Eulimidae is a family of parasitic gastropod that both show evidence of radiations and undocumented diversity, warranting further investigation. I will employ a transcriptome-based exon-capture approach to enhance our dataset and generate a more resolved phylogeny for Chromodoris. I will also build molecular phylogenies for eulimids and their echinoderm hosts, with a focus on an undocumented diversification of endoparasites in Antarctica and poorly-known ectoparasites in Western Australia.
Soon Hwee Ng
PHD Student
Animals play host to a wide variety of commensal microorganisms within the gastrointestinal tract. Increasing evidence suggests that these gut microbes play a bigger role than just aiding in digestion - they affect the health, development, and physiology of their host. Using Australian field cricket as an insect model, I am studying the interactions between gut microbes and diet, and how they might influence sexual behaviours. Through diet manipulation and the use of ‘germ-free’ crickets, I will examine how gut microbiota changes with protein/carbohydrate ratio, and how these microbes affect reproductive success.
 
Amanda Bourne
PHD Student
In my PhD I am bringing together two sets of questions  - one around "Why be social?" and another around what it is that underlies species vulnerability to climate change. I am studying the impacts of high temperatures on behaviour, energy expenditure, water turnover, reproduction, and survival in Southern Pied Babblers Turdoides bicolor and investigating the extent to which, if at all, cooperation and group living can provide a buffer against negative impacts of heat stress. 
Jacob Berson
PHD Student
The dung beetle, Onthophagus taurus, has become a model system for examining questions in sexual selection. However, nothing is known of the role chemical communication may play inmate choice in this species. Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), lipids found on the cuticle of insects, have been shown to mediate sexual selection in a number of insects. my research aims to investigate the role of CHCs in mate choice in O. taurus, and examine the genetic architecture underlying these traits. Furthermore, I will explore what role CHCs play in identifying the mating status of females and the effects this has on a male's mating investment.
Samuel Lymbery
PHD Student
I am interested in the evolutionary drivers of cooperation and conflict. For my PhD, I will examine the roles of inclusive fitness and multilevel selection in mediating sexual conflict and female harm during reproduction, using seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus as a model species. By manipulating the kin structure in breeding groups, I aim to determine the role of relatedness in both the short term adjustments of female harm by individual males and population-level changes in female harm over generations. I will also examine differences between pre- and post-copulatory male competitiveness in response to changes in kin structure.
Robin Hare

PHD Student
Sexual selection acting on female animals has historically received little attention from researchers. My research aims to address this knowledge gap using the bushcricket Kawanaphila nartee, which is known to undergo sex role reversal where females compete for males and males become choosy. By investigating the effects of female competition on the evolution of female traits in this species, and by comparing these traits across populations, my research will help provide a clearer picture of how sex roles are determined and their evolutionary consequences.

Sarah Leeson

PHD Student
My research focuses on the genetics of introduced dung beetles in Australia. Dung beetles were introduced to Australia between 1969 and 1984 to combat the problematic build-up of cattle dung. While 43 species were introduced, only 23 have established, and many have failed to fulfill their predicted distribution. I am interested in the role that genetic variation has played in determining the outcome of these introductions. I will also investigate how genetic variation is utilised in local adaptation across climatic gradients, and I will look for evidence of adaptive introgression in species that were introduced from multiple source populations.

Fabian Rudin

PHD Student
I aim to explore consistent inter-individual differences in behaviour, or "animal personalities", from an evolutionary perspective using the Australian field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. Employing a quantitative genetic approach, I will investigate the heritability as well as the fitness consequences of personality traits. Moreover, I will examine how environmental cues influence the production, evolution and maintenance of personalities by manipulating the crickets' social and physical environment. My goal is to make valuable contributions to the ongoing discussion about the interplay between genetic and environmental effects on behaviour (nature vs. nurture).

Arek Filipczyk

PHD Student
I use a unicellular alga, Chlamydomoas reinhardtii, to test assumptions standing behind the most commonly accepted theories of the evolution of sexes. This alga has sex but not sexes. However, its sex cells can be smaller or larger depending on environmental or genetic factors. I examine sex cells production in the alga, the differences between smaller and larger sex cells (longevity, motility, mating efficiency, quality of offspring), and the inheritance of sex cell size. I also test how the mode of sexual reproduction of this alga can evolve in a laboratory.

Gonçalo Andre

PHD Student
I am interested in the selective mechanisms underlying the evolution of the penis bone or baculum in mammals, and how the morphology of this bone impacts male and female reproductive success. I am using the house mouse as a model species, to measure physiological and morphological parameters, ranging from baculum size and shape to the neuroendocrinology response of females when mated with males with different baculum phenotypes. I will also determine the degree to which the environmental and genetic backgrounds of individuals affect baculum morphology. My research will thereby contribute to our understanding of the evolution of this divergent mammalian bone.

Stephanie Venables

PHD Student
Accurate information on population size and structure is necessary in order to understand the conservation requirements of a species, develop management strategies, and to assess and monitor population health over time. My PhD project focuses on fine-scale population genetics of reef manta rays, Manta alfredi, in two separate locations – Southern Mozambique and Raja Ampat, Indonesia. I will use genetic markers to estimate effective population size, investigate spatial connectivity and generational relatedness in order to gain insight into the structure of these populations. This information is intended to guide effective management and protection of this threatened species on a regional and global scale.



 

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Friday, 20 July, 2018 9:56 AM

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