Investment in cooperative antipredator defences under variable ecological and social conditions
The evolution of costly cooperative behaviour is puzzling if individuals not contributing on the cooperative act will gain same benefits but with lower costs than cooperative individuals (dilemma of public goods).
This project focuses to investigate how costs and benefits of cooperation and exploitation change under various ecological, social and environmental conditions. Expected results will provide important information on ecological and evolutionary processes that shape the optimization of various cooperative strategies such as cooperative antipredator defence and parental care.
As a study species I use gregarious, chemically defended but cryptically coloured pine sawfly larvae (Neodiprion sertifer and Diprion pini) and aposematic burying beetles (Nicrophorus vespilloides, collaboration with the Kilner-group, Sheena Cotter and James Gilbert).
Evolution of warning signals and chemical defences under multiple selection pressures
This work focuses on the costs and benefits of warning signal production and maintenance. Studying the selective environment of prey animals as a whole and acknowledging that aposematic individuals have to cope with a range of selection pressures that affect the optimisation of their defences are both important to understanding the diversity of aposematic strategies observed in the wild.
I am especially interested in the possible constraints for warning signal production (e.g. costs linked to immunology, pigment production, chemical defence and diet quality), reliability of warning signals and predator perception and sensory ecology.
I am using the aposematic wood tiger moth Arctia plantaginis (collaboration with Johanna Mappes and Predator-Prey interaction group) and aposematic pine sawfly Neodiprion lecontei (collaboration with the Linnen lab) as study species.