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Title: “Female-based predation and its impact on sexually dimorphic behaviour and morphology”

Researcher: Kyla Ercit, M.Sc. Candidate

Supervisor: Dr. Darryl Gwynne, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto at Mississauga


Tree cricket males sing to attract females by rubbing together specialized structures on their wings. The predatory wasp Isodontia Mexicana hunts crickets, paralyzes them with a sting, and carries them back to their nest as live food for their offspring.  While one might suspect the singing male crickets would attract predators such as the predatory wasp, in actual fact, females are preferentially predated by them.

Kyla is interested how this female-biased predation affects the evolution of cricket behaviour and morphology, and how sexual selection among crickets differs in populations exposed to both low and high predation. To this end, Kyla has installed artificial wasp boxes in two locations at rare, a low predation site. She will examine and measure cricket prey brought to the nests as well as sample crickets in the surviving population by capturing them using hand-nets. Wasps will be marked using commercial bee-tags and recaptured at the trap nests. She will also collect data on copulating pairs of tree crickets.