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|Campus||Geelong Waurn Ponds|
Factors Favouring Associations among Suites of Traits in Sexual Signalling
My main interests are ecology and evolution. Concerning evolution, I am particularly interested sexual selection. Understanding how resources allocations, social behavior and the environmental factors, influence the reproductive strategies of the population, and therefore population dynamic, is inherent to a complete understanding of evolutionary process. I am also fascinated by animal communication: visual, vocal and chemical, which play a central role in animal societies. Concerning ecology, I am particularly concerned by species conservation. I wish to monitor endangered species by description of the health status via physiology and behavioral observations. My aim would be to combine these domains, and use evolutionary process, animal behavior, ecology and physiology to give the most accurate prediction under changing environment and climate and develop effective conservation programs.
The research performed during this PhD will focus on visual ecology of pattern/colour discrimination:
In many species, individuals often use complex colour patterns to find food, avoid predation, attract mates and compete for resources. Moreover, animal colour pattern phenotypes can evolve rapidly. The evolution of multiple traits could strongly affect species divergence and speciation via sexual selection, and this is what I propose to investigate. My basic questions are: Why are particular combinations of colours more common and more commonly used than other combinations? How do females distinguish among colours and among colour combinations and use this discrimination to make choices about mates? Is this simply a matter of visual contrast and visual discrimination or are there other factors influencing the choices, such as categorical perception of colours? I will address these questions making use of the guppy model system and the ongoing guppy populations in Prof. John Endler’s laboratory.
In Prof. Endler’s long term experiment, many guppy generations are raised under three different light environments and the evolution of male colour patterns, female preferences and the visual system tracked. I will take advantage of these populations by investigating how their choice behaviour has diverged among the 3 environments and how it has diverged within environment, with an emphasis on suites of colours and their functions. I will evaluate visual discrimination between colours and colour patterns, and will address the totally unexplored question of whether adjacent colours used in sexual signalling have greater contrast than random or than non-adjacent colours. I will also evaluate how the use of colour pattern affects mating success using a three-way choice trial. To answer this last question and in a last stage of this research programme, if time permits, I will expand this research bowerbirds, which offer an unparalleled opportunity to present colour and colour pattern discrimination tests to unrestricted wild birds.
- Sep 2015-Present – PhD Student, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Centre for Integrative Ecology, Australia, Geelong
- Apr-Sep 2015 – Research Assistant (volunteer), Deakin University, Centre for Integrative Ecology, Australia, Geelong
- Jun-Dec 2014 – Research Assistant, University of the Azores, Institute of Marine Research – IMAR, Department of oceanography and fishery, Portugal, Horta
- Apr-May 2014 – Field Assistant, Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, France, Strasbourg
- Jan-May 2013 – Scientific Collaborator, Research Center for Chelonii Conservation, France, Gonfaron, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
- Feb-Jun 2012 – Research in Physiology and Life history traits (Internship), University of Lausanne, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Bize Pierre, Switzerland, Lausanne
- Mar-Jun 2011 – Research in Behavioral ecology (internship), Station d’Ecologie Expérimentale à Moulis, France, Saint-Girons
- Aug 2010 – Research in Marine Biology (internship), Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Germany, Warnemünde
- May-Jul 2009 – Field Biologist (internship), West Fork Environmental, United States, Tumwater, Washington
- Feb-Apr 2009 – Research in population dynamic (internship), Station Biologique de Roscoff, Frederique Viard, France, Roscoff
- Sep-Oct 2009 – Field Assistant (volunteer), ARCHELON : Association for sea turtle protection, Greece, Zákynthos, Ionian Islands
- Jun-Jul 2009 – Animal Care Technician (internship), Rochasson care center for wildlife, France – Meylan, Rhône-Alpes
Cornuau JH, Schmeller DS, Pigeault R, Sibeaux A, Tourat A, Loyau A. Information-content of morphological and behavioural sexual traits in the Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus), Behavioural Processes, 09/2014; 108. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.09.011