Males and females often show striking differences in their morphology, physiology and behaviour. With my research I aim at understanding how males and females differ and how these differences evolved. I am particularly interested in sexual selection and sexual conflict. Sexual conflict can occur when the evolutionary interests of males and females over shared traits like mating rate differ, causing opposing selection pressures on the two sexes. Sexual conflict is predicted to cause rapid change and to ultimately cause speciation as it directly alters sexual traits that can contribute to reproductive isolation.
I study reproductive traits using mainly Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, but have also used other insect species in the past. Fruit flies are particularly amenable to this type of work as their entire genome is described and there are plenty of molecular tools do study the function of single genes. I use a range of methods from artificial selection experiments to behavioural assays to study different aspects of male – female mating interactions in the laboratory.