Associate Professor Therésa Jones
My main area of research is in the field behavioural ecology with a particular focus on understanding the causes and consequences of variability in mating systems, the role of chemical cues, and most recently the impact of artificial night lighting on individual fitness and community structure. I completed my undergraduate at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (UK) and my PhD at the Institute of Zoology (UK). During my PhD, I spent a year at the Instituto Evandro Chagas in Belém, Brazil carrying out field observations and experiments. I commenced postdoctoral research in 1999 at Uppsala University (Sweden) exploring alternative male mating strategies in vertebrate (the ruff, Philomachus pugnax) and invertebrate (Hawaiian Drosophila) lekking species. In 2001, I was awarded a Royal Society Travelling Fellowship to conduct research at the University of Melbourne where I have worked since, first as a postdoctoral research fellow with Prof Mark Elgar for six years and then as a Melbourne University Research Career Interruption Fellow. I am currently employed as a senior lecturer in the School of BioSciences. In addition to my passion for behavioural ecology, I am a strong advocate for gender equality in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Dr Kathryn McNamara
ARC DECRA Fellow
I was awarded my PhD in 2008 from the University of Melbourne. In 2010, I commenced a Fellowship at Monash University and then took up an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Western Australia. I am currently an ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Melbourne. My primary area of research has been in the field of ecological immunology, sexual selection and chemical communication. My interest in the insect microbiome is a natural extension of these interests. My research is characterised by large-scale, hypothesis-driven experimental studies which examine the complex phenotypic and genetic relationship between immunity, condition, and reproduction. My work incorporates cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary techniques in invertebrate immunology and reproductive fitness assays.
Tom Keaney (PhD)
Mothers curse – intra-genomic conflict in Drosophila melanogaster
I am in the second year of my PhD working with Dr Luke Holman and Associate Professor Theresa Jones on my thesis, Sex as a prophylactic against extinction. I work mostly in the lab (although I’d like to get out into the field at some point), using insect species as models to investigate how evolutionary forces like sexual selection affect the fitness and persistence of animal populations. I hope to help answer some longstanding questions in evolutionary biology, such as why sex evolved and how it’s become so prevalent, and how adaptation might be able to protect species from extinction.
PhD Supervisors: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones and Dr Luke Holman
Nik Willmott (PhD)
Poisoning the web: Spiders in the anthropocene
Spiders are the most diverse group of predators on Earth, and collectively eat more animal mass than humans every year. Despite this, very little is known about how they’re responding to anthropogenic change. I research these responses to better understand why some species thrive in cities. My current focus is on the effects of two pervasive pollutants – artificial light at night and pesticides – and urbanisation more generally, on spider behaviour, development, and internal microbiome communities. As a side project, I’m also studying how spider brain anatomy is shaped by anthropogenic change, and evolutionary shifts in morphology and sociality.
PhD Supervisors: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones, Dr Kath McNamara and Prof Bob Wong
Ashton Dickerson (PhD)
Evolution of nocturnal singing in the willie wagtail and the effects of urbanisation upon this behaviour
After completing my masters research examining natural variation of behaviour between individuals in a bird species, I began to wonder how environmental factors may also influence behaviour. Environmental factors related to urbanisation are of particular interest to me as urbanisation affects wildlife worldwide. Using willie wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys) I will examine whether factors such as artificial light at light (ALAN) and traffic noise influence behaviour (with a focus on singing behaviour). Willie wagtails are a particularly useful species to examine this question as they are known for singing at night (when ALAN is in action). Nocturnal singing is a relatively unusual behaviour, and as such I will also seek out the evolutionary drivers behind this phenomenon. I aim to discover if urbanisation affects nocturnal singing, through both observational and experimental methods, and to also examine various hypotheses that may explain the evolution of nocturnal singing and its fitness effects.
PhD Supervisors: Dr Michelle Hall and Assoc Prof Therésa Jones
Marty Lockett (PhD)
Trophic effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) in Eucalyptus woodlands
Plants and animals rely on sunlight and natural light signals for a variety of functions, including photosynthesis, vision, the timing of daily activity, and the onset of key life stages. Artificial lighting is increasingly ubiquitous and can impact the growth, development and survival of organisms through multiple mechanisms. In plant and animal communities, effects of ALAN on one organism can cascade through to others, for example through impacts on food webs. My PhD explores the impacts of ALAN on a keystone Australian food chain comprising Eucalyptus trees, colonising lerp psyllids and bush birds that consume lerps and psyllids. By testing the impacts of ALAN on tree growth, morphology and physiology, psyllid development, survival and productivity, and the activity of a psyllid-dependent honeyeater (the bell miner), I aim to identify whether ALAN is likely to disrupt trophic webs in remnant urban woodlands. In addition, I am exploring the effects of ALAN on other urban wildlife communities, including in the abundance and composition of invertebrates in suburban streetscapes, and the timing of activity in urban bird communities.
PhD Supervisors: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones and Dr Gareth Hopkins
Maddie Nam (Masters)
Insect attraction behaviour in response to differing colour and intensity of artificial light
Light pollution is a newly emerging and serious environmental stressor. The last century has seen a dramatic increase in the use of artificial light at night (ALAN). Both the spectral composition and intensity of ALAN has negative impacts for both plant and animal species. My Masters research will explore these effects using a combination of field and laboratory experiments, firstly to identify underlying characteristics of artificial light that attract different insect groups, and providing information about insect perception, and also to investigate the effects of historical exposure to ALAN on invertebrates.
Masters Supervisors: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones and Dr Amanda Franklin
Nicola-Anne Rutkowski (Masters)
Trans-generational immune priming in invertebrates
I am currently in my second year of masters working with Dr Yong Zhi Foo, Dr Kathryn McNamara and Associate Professor Theresa Jones. I am conducting a meta-analysis on trans-generational immune priming in invertebrates, as well as an experiment on terminal investment in the pacific field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. With my research, I hope to answer questions surrounding the nature of immune priming in invertebrates and the factors that may affect its intensity and prevalence. I also hope to understand the relationship that age and immune status have on terminal investment (if there is one!).
Masters Supervisor: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones
Shion Kim (Masters)
The impacts of multiple stressors on the Australian field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus)
The impact of anthropogenic stressors on the environment has always been a passionate interest of mine and completing a Bachelors in Zoology lead me to wonder how animal behaviour is affected. Hence, I am currently undertaking a Master of BioSciences, examining the effects of artificial light at night and increased temperatures as multiple stressors on the Australian field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus). Considering how unprecedented levels of urbanisation exacerbate the urban heat island effect, climate change and light pollution, my project aims to investigate whether and how the reproductive behaviour of crickets will be affected under these such stressors both individually and simultaneously.
Masters Supervisor: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones
Nick Fitzgerald (Masters)
The effect of multiple stressors on Australian field crickets
Increased Urbanisation has led to worldwide temperature rise, and the amplified intensity and prevalence of artificial light at night (ALAN). These anthropogenic stressors dramatically challenge an organism’s fitness and survival, however the extent to which these stressors work together in tandem to create challenges to communication and immune function is limited, particularly on an evolutionary scale. My masters research will be two-fold, focusing on two species of the Australian Field Cricket, Teleogryllus commodus and Teleogryllus oceanicus. Part one will investigate the simultaneous effect of artificial light and temperature on T. oceanicus immune function, acoustic communication, and life-history traits. Whilst part two will aim to identify whether a predisposition and history of artificial light exposure impacts the degree of phenotypic and evolutionary change, analysing populations of T. commodus originating from environments differing in the degree of ALAN intensity (Rural, Semi-rural and Urban). Entomology has been a passion of mine from a young age, and I hope my research can continue to pave the way for invertebrate and artificial light science.
Masters Supervisor: Assoc Prof Therésa Jones and Dr Kath McNamara
Gemma Walker (Masters)
Eucalyptus leachate as an environmental stressor in freshwater landscapes
After completely my Bachelor of Science in Zoology, I developed a passion for animal behaviour and how this can be influenced by an animal’s environment. I am currently in my second year of Masters working with Therésa Jones and John Morrongiello to examine the effect of Eucalyptus leachate on freshwater fish behaviour. Eucalypts shed their leaves year-round as an adaptation to prevent water loss. This results in a build of dried leaves on the floodplains, which become inundated with water when the floods come through. The natural chemicals leach out of the leaves and can have a range of unintended impacts on the life history traits of freshwater fish species in these environments, however it is unknown what effect these compounds have on fish behaviour. My research is looking at the effect of short-term and long-term exposure to sublethal levels of eucalyptus leachate on mate choice and courtship behaviour in the Murray River rainbowfish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis).
Masters Supervisor: Dr John Morrongiello and Assoc Prof Therésa Jones
Rebecca Rasmussen (Research Assistant)
Artificial light as an agent of evolutionary change
I am exploring the potential for light at night to act as a powerful agent promoting evolutionary change using the Australian field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus.
|Dr Gareth Hopkins||Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Western Oregon University.|
|Dr Lucy McLay||The impact of light at night and oxidative stress in Drosophila|
|Dr Anne Aulsebrook||The impact of light at night on avian sleep|
|Dr Liz Milla||Evolutionary ecology of the Australian Heliozelidae (Adeloidea; Lepidoptera)|
|Dr Jessica Henneken||Mate choice in orb weaving spiders|
|Dr Yasaman Alavi||The evolution of facultative parthenogenesis in the Australian spiny leaf insect (Extatosoma tiaratum)|
|Dr Bec Featherston||Sexual conflict and sex ratios: the impact of female control|
|Dr Kathryn McNamara||Male mating strategies and their effect on female fitness in the almond moth|
|Maddie Brown||The effect of light at night on cognition and life history traits|
|Harriett Kulich||The impact of light at night on zebra finch cognition|
|Tom Keaney||Mother’s curse: Drosophila melanogaster|
|Caitlin Selleck||Food choice in a native caterpillar pest|
|Nikolas Willmott||Responses of a nocturnal orb-weaving spider to artificial light at night|
|Alex Francis||Community level impacts of variation in the spectra of artificial light at night|
|Chris Freelance||Variation in tissue bound ROS and melatonin concentration in response to ALAN|
|Ellie Michaelides||Fitness costs associated with environmental light pollution|
|Joanna Durrant||Physiological consequences of constant light exposure and the role of melatonin in the black field cricket|
|Jessi Henneken||The use of web based chemical cues in mate assessment in an orb weaving spider|
|Christina Eldridge||Responding to stress – the impact of dietary oxidants for fitness|
|Connor Wheelan||Variation in song traits under different nocturnal light conditions|
|Michael Botha||Artificial light at night and variation in reproductive investment in crickets|