Testing the Predictions of the Pace-of-Life Syndrome in Domestic Crickets

A major question in Evolutionary Biology is when and how phenotypic traits should be correlated. To date, one of the main predictive hypothesis of trait integration is the “pace-of-life” syndrome hypothesis, which posits that behavioral, physiological and life history should integrate along a slow to fast  "pace-of-life" continuum. During my postdoctoral research at NDSU, I showed that the predictions made by this hypothesis are poorly supported in house crickets (Animal Behavior). These results are also confirmed by a larger meta-analysis of the predictions of the pace-of-life syndrome (Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology).

Thanks to  @paulypod  for this lovely graphical abstract!

Thanks to @paulypod for this lovely graphical abstract!

Influence of Developmental Diet on the Generation of Behavioral Differences

The environment individuals experience during their development can have a major influence on their behavior later in life. However, the influence played by the developmental environment in shaping behavioral variation itself (as opposed to affecting behavioral averages) remains poorly understood. We provided juvenile crickets with either a high or low quality diet during development and measured their activity, response to predator cues and body-mass repeatedly over maturation. Our results show that nutritional stress early in life can lead to more consistent behavioral responses when individuals faced predatory threats. This research is now published in Behavioral Ecology and Animal Behaviour.

Bronze jumping spider during insecticide exposure

Bronze jumping spider during insecticide exposure

Factors Influencing Behavioral Variation in Bronze Jumping Spiders

During my PhD, I examined behavioral syndrome structure and personality variation in regards to development, sex differences, and effects of human disturbances (e.g. pesticide application) on syndromes and personalities. I showed evidence for changes in behavioral correlations between jumping spider populations from an insecticide-exposed and insecticide-free orchard (Ethology) and that direct exposure to a sublethal dose of organophosphate can have a profound effect on the expression of personality differences related to activity and prey capture (Functional Ecology). Finally, I provided a conceptual framework by which effects of contaminant on behavioral variation in wildlife can be better understood (Animal Behavior).