FEA of insect genitalia
With Nikolai Tatarnic -
I am a post-doctoral fellow in the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre at UNSW, studying the role of sexual conflict in evolution. As part of my research I am studying coevolution between males and females in the traumatically inseminating plant bug genus Coridromius. In traumatic insemination, males stab females with hypodermic genitalia and inseminate directly into the body cavity of females. In response to the costs of such violent mating, females of many species have evolved various internal and external structures, collectively called ‘paragenitalia’, to restrict damage and reduce the risk of infection during mating. We have recently shown than males and females are engaged in a coevolutionary chase, with changes in male genital morphology matched by paragenital changes in females (Tatarnic and Cassis 2010). However, the functional significance – particularly of changes in male genital form – remains unknown. I am presently collaborating with the Wroe lab to test the hypothesis that changes in male genital form represent adaptations towards a stronger, more efficient stabbing organ in response to cuticular thickening at the site of insemination in females. To do this we are generating Finite Element models based on micro-CT images of male genitalia. This research is funded by the Australia & Pacific Science Foundation.
Reconstruction of ratite brain endocasts
We are currently working with Trevor Worthy and Ken Ashwell (UNSW) on the reconstruction of brain endocasts in a wide range of living and extinct ratite species, including moa and extinct emu taxa.