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Reproductive interference across continental scales: combining citizen science and behavioural experiments to test reproductive character displacement hypotheses

Department of Biosciences

, , Friday, January 08, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Social interactions between species impact numerous ecological and evolutionary processes. For instance, wasteful reproductive interactions between species (reproductive interference) may prevent two species from coexisting in the same location unless natural selection drives divergence in traits used as mating signals. Demoiselle damselflies are a model system for studying the evolutionary consequences of social interactions between species. Yet, despite the fact that male damselflies initiate mating interactions, there has been little research into the mechanisms by which variation in female wing colour impacts male sexual responses. Consequently, there remains much unexplained spatial and temporal variation in reproductive interference, even in this model system.

For this project, the student will take the lead on developing an ongoing citizen scientist scheme ( to quantify geographic variation in the wing coloration of female demoiselle damselflies on an unprecedented continental scale. In addition, the student will carry out fieldwork, conducting behavioural experiments to measure responses of male banded and beautiful demoiselles to variation in female wing colour. Combining these two approaches, this project will yield new insights into the evolutionary responses to reproductive interference that have made coexistence possible in these species.

Keywords: behavioural ecology, fieldwork, citizen science, reproductive character displacement, behavioural interference

Funding Notes

This project is in competition with others for funding. Success will depend on the quality of applications received, relative to those for competing projects. If you are interested in applying, in the first instance contact the supervisor, with a CV and covering letter, detailing your reasons for applying for the project. Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Drury by 15 December 2020 at the latest.

For further information on the IAPETUS scheme, and details of eligibility criteria & requirements please visit the IAPETUS website: View Website


1 Drury et al. 2015 Proc. Biol. Sci. 282, 20142256. 2 Shuker & Burdfield-Steel 2017 Ecol. Entomology 42, 65-75. 3 Troscianko & Stevens 2015, MEE 6, 1320-1331. 4 Svensson et al. 2016 Evolution 70, 1165-1179. 5 Mendelson et al 2018 Evolution 72, 337-347. 6 Grether et al. 2017 TREE 32, 760-772. 7 Drury et al. 2019 Ecography doi: 10.1111/ecog.04469

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