|Room 317, Peel Building, University of Salford, Salford , M5 4WT.|
|0161 295 5141|
I consider myself primarily a behavioural ecologist and I aim to integrate behavioural ecology with ecotoxicology, population ecology, population genetics and ecological modelling. I enjoy working with aquatic animals and I am fascinated by the evolution of animal mating systems and strategies. I strongly believe that a deep knowledge of animal behaviours and mating strategies is fundamental in any program of conservation and management of biodiversity.
My experience in the field and in the lab convinced me that the investigation of behavioural, conservation and evolutionary problems is most productive when empirical studies are directly tied to specific theory. I value an integrated approach and I try to link in my projects theory with field observations, manipulative experiments and molecular techniques.
Current main research interests:
a) SEQUENTIAL HERMAPHRODITISM - I am interested in assessing the effect of the direction of sex change on population structure and dynamics in sex changing marine organism and evaluating the consequences for management and conservation. I aim to compare sex change strategies in crustaceans (where the majority of species are male-first sex changers) and fishes (where the majority of species are female-first sex changers). I am also interested in assessing the effects of overharvesting and climate change on sex changing populations
b) COLOUR CHANGE - the ability of animals to change their colours can tell us a lot about adaptations to the environment and behavioural responses. Phenotypic plasticity and responses to stress and pollutions are new hot topics in the field. In my lab we are using the brown shrimp Crangon crangon as a study organism.
c) PATTERNS OF SEX ALLOCATIONS AND SEX RATIOS - I am interested in addressing the maintenance of unbalanced sex ratios in natural populations
d) SEX-DETERMINATION SYSTEMS - I am interested in sex determining mechanisms especially in mixed mating systems (coexistence of hermaphrodites and males or females) and sequential hermaphroditism
e) INTERSEXUAL CONFLICTS - My PhD project focused on precopulatory mate guarding behaviour as a case of intersexual conflict in an easily tractable and uniquely informative system: branchiopod crustaceans (clam shrimp), which present dioecious (males and females) as well as androdioecious (males and hermaphrodites) species. The facultative ability of self-fertilization in hermaphrodites likely decreases the benefit of mating with males, but not the costs of being guarded. This asymmetry of costs-benefits intensifies the strength of the conflict (compared to dioecious species) providing robust conflict estimation. I am interested in following this line of investigation. Moreover, can intersexual conflicts exist in sex-changing individuals?
Candidate: Thomas Charles Mathers
Title of thesis: The genetics and ecological dynamics of sexual system in tadpole shrimps