The prenatal environment is known to have extremely important consequences on offspring morphology, physiology, behavior and ultimately fitness. In birds, variation in both egg size and contents have been shown to affect many offspring traits, but few studies have been able to reveal the mechanisms behind this differential investment, or have been able to consider the effect of differential prenatal investment on offspring survival and reproduction.
My PhD project looks at both the genetic and environmental basis of prenatal maternal investment, and the long-term impact of this investment on offspring fitness using a captive population of Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica). Japanese Quail are an extremely good model species for looking at evolutionary questions as they are amenable to manipulation and have an exceptionally short generation time. In this captive population, mating can be controlled, eggs artificially incubated and, as the chicks are precocial, no postnatal parental care is required. This means that prenatal investment and its subsequent effects on offspring fitness can be separated from the other aspects of parental investment. Individuals can also be followed from egg to reproducing adult, which is often impossible in wild populations.
Education and professional positions
|2012 - present||PhD Student, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland|
|2007 - 2011||MBiolSci in Animal Behaviour, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK|