Dr Rebecca Boulton
Postdoctoral Research Assistant (Field)
Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK
I'm an evolutionary biologist and I'm interested in how and why transitions between different behavioural character states occur. I use a combination of lab and field experiments, molecular approaches and phylogeny based techniques to answer my questions of interest.
Many approaches that seek to understand the evolutionary significance of a certain trait look to extant species that express the trait of interest. For instance, attempting to understand why females engage in multiple matings, or polyandry, involves measuring the benefits of high, compared to low mating rates. Such studies focus on species that display elevated polyandry, which can conflate the reason why it is maintained, from what initiated its evoltion. I addressed this issue during my PhD, where I chose to study the evolutionary causes of female multiple mating in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis.
In my current post-doc I focus on the evolution of sociality, using a primitively social species, the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus as a model. Unlike more advanced and commonly studied species such as the honeybee, H. rubicundus is in a transitional state in terms of its social behaviour, providing an excellent opportunity to examine the selection pressures that lead to the evolution of sociality, and the genetic mechanisms that drive this change.
In the future I hope to examine how the evolution of sociality and gregariousness interact with mating systems across the hymenoptera.
In my spare time I play ultimate frisbee and sometimes do stand up comedy.
More info on my other projects can be found on my (out of date) website: https://rebeccaaboulton.wordpress.com/about/
September 2012 - May 2016: PhD "The evolutionary causes and consequences of polyandry in Nasonia vitripennis". School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Dr David Shuker
September 2010 - September 2011: MRes Primate Biology, Behaviour and Conservation (distinction). Department of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton
September 2007 - June 2010: BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour (first class). Department of Life Sciences, University of Chester.
January 2018 - Date: ERC Post-doctoral Research Fellow, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Camous.
March 2016 - December 2017 - Post-doctoral Research Associate, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota.
Sexual selection, sex allocation and sex ratios, eusociality and conservation behaviour
The evolution of sociality in the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus
Biological control Philornis downsi, an invasive dipteran parasite of Darwin's finches on the Galapagos
The evolution of host specificity and oviposition site in the parasitoid wasps
The inconvenient truth about convenience polyandry
The evolutionary causes and consequences of polyandry in Nasonia vitripennis