TL Johnson, MRE Symonds, MA Elgar (2017) Anticipatory flexibility: larval population density in moths determines male investment in antennae, wings and testes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284: 20172087 PDF
What’s it about:
We show that male moths invest differently in key reproductive structures – the antennae and testes – dependant on their larval environment. More specifically, this relates to different cues from their environment. Males reared with a great number of other males produce bigger testes (which help with sperm competition), but testes size was not affected by the density of those males (manipulated by controlling container size). By contrast, males reared at a lower density (fewer males in a large container) invested more in antennae (presumably because they use density as a cue to determine how likely they are to find a female, and hence invest more into a structure that may enable them to find said females.
What’s the story behind it:
The second paper from Tamara’s PhD thesis, and this had a surprisingly easy ride into publication (this was the first journal we sent it to, and the reviewers liked it). I say surprisingly, but the study was very simple and elegant and Tamara had already won student prizes at conferences when she presented this research, so we knew it was a pretty cool result. Acceptance came at a good time for Tamara, just prior to handing in, and so hopefully has acted as a fillip to encourage her to keep going and finish up soon (hint hint Tamara).
[…] You wait for ages and then two come along at once. Tamara’s next chapter from her thesis has been accepted for publication in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. A wonderful outcome, and a really nice and elegant research experiment. You can read more about it all here. […]