header image
Evolution & Vector Ecology Lab
tsetse fly
tsetse fly

Reproductive senescence in a long-lived disease vector

We are part of a large, interdisciplinary team investigating how maternal investment in the tsetse fly shapes disease dynamics. Tsetse are remarkable flies where females give birth to live young, as large as their mother. They also transmit trypanosome parasites which cause debilitating disease in humans and livestock. Our BBSRC-funded project using experiments in the lab, field observations and theoretical models to ask how maternal investment changes with age and nutrition, and whether this influences offspring quality and propensity to transmit disease.



meerkat pup
meerkat pup

Maternal effects on offspring development, behaviour and fitness

Experiences early in development, starting in the womb, can have formative effects into later life, including shaping the onset and rate of ageing. We are developing theoretical models to understand the mechanisms underlying these long-term effects of early experiences, and test across a range of systems - including tsetse and the live-bearing Pacific beetle cockroach - how maternal experiences of the environment can help or hinder their offspring’s ability to cope with later environmental change.



cockroaches
cockroaches

Evolution of viviparity and consequences of intergenerational conflict and coadaptation

Viviparity is unique in mammals but has evolved independently across the natural world in taxa as diverse as reptiles, fish and flies. Why would natural selection favour such a costly and complex reproductive strategy? Moreover, when offspring develop in utero, they depend exclusively on their mothers for resources yet express both maternal and paternal genes. The resulting coadaptation and conflict can lead to fascinating outcomes for evolution. We use flies and cockroaches as models to understand the evolutionary causes and consequences of this extreme form of maternal investment.