My latest Nebraskan paper just saw the light of day! It has a pretty kick-ass title: Ecophysiological determinants of sexual size dimorphism: integrating growth trajectories, environmental conditions, and metabolic rates. In this paper I followed the daily development of over a thousand super tiny baby spiderlings from egg to adulthood, monitoring their growth, their metabolic rates, and manipulating the temperature at which they grew, as well as how much food they had. Why? In hopes of finding how and why do females achieve such drastically larger sizes than males at adulthood despite growing in the same environment. Spoiler alert: females grow much faster than males, but only from their 5th instar on, suggesting some kind of "puberty" trigger to their sexual dimorphism. Their metabolism, very surprisingly, doesn't have anything to do with it: females and males have very similar metabolic rates throughout their lives. Environment, however, matters: females were more affected by food shortage and warm temperatures than males.
This project was a HUGE undertaking that I would never have completed without the help of several amazing undergrads. The whole process was chaotic, from the very beginning (construction in the building messing up my treatments), to the very end (lengthy and complicated review process), but all these hurdles ultimately made it a much much stronger paper. Can you tell I'm very proud of this one?
You can find it here: https://rdcu.be/bPbak. If you hit a pay-wall just shoot me a message, I'll be thrilled to send you a copy.
I am excited to announce that I will start a new postdoc at Duke in May 2019, digging a little bit deeper into the relationship between sexual dimorphism, environment and parasitism in Fence Lizards. Looking forward to joining an exciting Department in a super fun town (the Neo Gothic architecture is pretty enticing too!)!
Our paper about the relationship between early male maturation and female-biased sexual size dimorphism was accepted at Ecology and Evolution! In it we show that, contrary to what has been long assumed in the sexual size dimorphism literature, early-male maturation is not the only profitable strategy in systems with scramble competition, and that early-male maturation does not necessarily lead to extreme degrees of sexual size dimorphism.
I am incredibly honored to have been awarded a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Dan Edwards and Carolin Frank at UC Merced! That is a very long name for a truly fantastic fellowship. I will be investigating the role played by the differences in the prevalence and virulence of lizard malaria on the degree of sexual dimorphism of multiple populations of the Western Fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis).
Photo by David Cooksy