Project Title Offspring or survival: Antagonistic effects and the maintenance of genetic variation in an isolated island population of Seychelles warblers
My first substantial research experience came while completing my undergraduate dissertation on the brown argus butterfly (Aricia agestis) at the University of Bristol. This work introduced me to the idea that within a species, differing environmental factors can drastically influence trade-offs between reproduction and dispersal. I then went on to complete a master’s degree in Biodiversity and Conservation at Leeds University, where, I conducted a dissertation aimed at determining how behavioural and environmental factors influence reproductive success and survival within the little tern (Sterna albifrons).
After this, I worked as a research associate on a collaborative project between Duke, Cambridge and Zurich University exploring neuro-endocrine and behavioural mechanisms of female dominance and reproductive skew in wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta). Through direct manipulation of prenatal androgen exposure; this project examined the expression and acquisition of female dominance, and patterns in the behavioural, endocrine, and reproductive development of offspring.
I will be investigating how different mechanisms interact to maintain genetic variation at immune genes within an isolated island population of Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis). Specifically, I will be focusing on the role pathogens have in maintaining MHC variation using modern molecular tools. Additionally, I will be looking at how different mechanisms associated with the maintenance of genetic variation can have antagonistic effects upon reproduction and survival.
Dimac-Stohl, K. A.*, Davies, C. S.*, Grebe, N. M.*, Stonehill, A. C., Greene, L. K., Mitchell, J., ... & Drea, C. M. (2018). Incidence and biomarkers of pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal loss during an environmental stressor: implications for female reproductive suppression in the cooperatively breeding meerkat. Physiology & behavior. (*denotes co-first authors)
Davies, C. S., Smyth, K. N., Greene, L. K., Walsh, D. A., Mitchell, J., Clutton-Brock, T., & Drea, C. M. (2016). Exceptional endocrine profiles characterise the meerkat: sex, status, and reproductive patterns. Scientific reports, 6, 35492.
Talks: International society of behavioural ecology (ISBE), Exeter (2016). Society of integrative and comparative biology (SICB), Portland, Oregon (2016). Animal behavior society (ABS), Anchorage, Alaska (2015).
Posters: JEM Symposium (Beaufort, North Carolina, 2015).
Primary supervisor: David Richardson
Secondary supervisor: Hannah Dugdale