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 Ian Skicko

Ian Skicko

PhD Student

 Tremough Innovation Centre 


Tremough Innovation Centre, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9TA

My interest in scientific research began at the University of Edinburgh where I completed my BSc in Zoology. During this time I developed an interest in animal behaviour and sexual selection, leading me to undertake an MRes programme in animal behaviour at the University of Nottingham. My thesis, “Multimodal Signaling and Performance Capacity during Agonistic Interactions in the Flat-Horned Hissing Cockroach” combined morphological, physiological and behavioral approaches to investigate the extent to which single traits send multiple items of information during male contests in this species.  

My main research interests are in animal communication and decision making during intraspecific interactions including the relative importance of genes, environment and life histories on fitness. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms of communicating quality and receiver responses, variation in mate preference and decision making criteria, and the roles of sexual and natural selection in adaptation.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Evolutionary & Behavioural Ecology
  • Animal Communication & Signaling Theory
  • Sexual Selection


2012: BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Zoology), University of Edinburgh
2014: MRes Animal Behaviour, University of Nottingham


Research projects

Project Title: Sexual Selection and Local Adaptation to the Environment

Supervisors: Prof. Tom Tregenza, Dr. Rolando Rodríguez-Muñoz

Funding Body: NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Project Description:
The theory of sexual selection was conceived to explain traits that are apparently disadvantageous under natural selection. Sexual selection may however be capable of accelerating adaptation to a novel environment. When males that are well adapted to their environment are preferentially selected as mates, the genes contributing to their success will spread due to their naturally selected survival benefits as well as their sexually selected reproductive benefits. My project will be among the first to investigate this accelerative potential of sexual selection in the wild. The WildCrickets project utilises an extensive CCTV system allowing long-term monitoring of a population of field crickets in Northern Spain. By supplementing some crickets with an enhanced diet I will create a group of individuals within the population that appear optimally adapted to their environment. This will allow me to address questions relating to the spread of traits by natural and sexual selection, the roles of female choice versus intra-sexual selection, condition dependent mate choice, variation in the intensity of selective pressures, and the phenotypic integration of adaptive sexual traits.

For more information on the WildCrickets project please visit

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