I am interested in the how the social environments in which animals live can modify their reproductive behaviour. By altering the interactions between individuals, social conditions can modify the costs and benefits of reproductive strategies, and hence the evolution of mating behaviour generally. The effect of the social environment is particularly pertinent to studies of male reproductive behaviour due to the competitive nature of male sexual effort. Males must balance the costs of courtship, risk of competition, likelihood of mating, and abundance of alternative mates when considering where and how to invest their reproductive effort. All these factors are shaped by the social environment, which ultimately changes the selective landscape in which male reproductive strategies operate.
My research examines this interaction between the social environment and the evolution of reproductive strategies using fish, insects, spiders, and a little theoretical work as well. Specifically, I am intersted in how changing social environments can alter the costs of male sexual effort, the reproductive strategies used by males, and how individuals choose among social groups.