Assistant Professor of Biology Jen Hamel and biology major and Elon College Fellow Alina Iwan ’19 presented research at Behaviour 2019, a joint meeting of the Animal Behavior Society and the International Conference on Ethology.
Assistant Professor of Biology Jen Hamel and biology major and Elon College Fellow Alina Iwan ’19 presented research presentations on insect behavior and communication at an international conference held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on July 23-27, 2019.
Hamel presented a poster titled, “A comparative study of airborne and vibrational signaling in Neotropical katydids,” in which airborne and substrate-borne vibrational signals of six different species of Neotropical katydids were characterized, as well as the relative use of each signal type over 24 hours. Iwan presented a poster titled, “Studying the functions and contexts of vibrational communication in Neotropical katydids,” in which Iwan and co-authors described the behavior of one species of Neotropical katydid across four social contexts, with a focus on signaling behavior.
Presentations included co-authors Ciara Kernan, Amber Litterer, Sharon Martinson and Hannah ter Hofstede of Dartmouth College, and Laurel Symes of Cornell University. The posters summarized recent findings by the team from work at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Hamel and her research students have been collaborating with ter Hofstede’s research group to study the behavior and evolution of diversity with this group of insect species.
Work by Hamel and her students at Barro Colorado Island has been supported by the Elon Center for Research on Global Engagement, Glen Raven Endowed Fellowships, Elon College Fellows, the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, the Acoustical Society ofAmerica, and the National Geographic / Microsoft Artificial Intelligence for Earth program.
Hamel also co-authored an oral presentation together with Ginny Greenway, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida, and Christine Miller, an Associate Professor at the University of Florida. The presentation was titled, “How does mate assortment influence sexual selection in a highly polyandrous system?” and focused on how the number of times that an individual mates and their number of mating partners influences evolutionary processes.
The team observed and recorded behavior by males and females of a focal insect species in large, semi-natural arenas with a robotic camera system, and they analyzed the resulting dataset with social network analysis. In the focal species, the most promiscuous males mated with less promiscuous females, thus experiencing low levels of sperm competition. Quantifying mating assortment is essential to understanding evolutionary processes associated with mating and mate choice.