University of Cambridge > > Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series > Biomechanics, trade-offs, and the diversification of animal weapons

Biomechanics, trade-offs, and the diversification of animal weapons

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Sexually selected ornaments are well-known for their stunning colors, complex displays, and incorporations into dances and movements. The expression of both ornaments and weapons is extremely sensitive to environmental factors, but sexually selected weapons are fundamentally different from ornaments. Weapons may serve as signals to conspecifics like ornaments do, but weapons are, by definition, fighting structures; they must be able to perform in physical combat. The biomechanics of animal weapons are crucial to study if we are to understand the evolution of these fascinating structures. Together with my research team, I address the evolutionary ecology and diversification of animal weapons using the leaf-footed cactus bug and its relatives. I will report on recent findings on the effects of dynamic natural diets on the structural integrity of weapons and trade-offs we have detected between insect weapons and their testes.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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