Mentor: Dr. Christine Miller
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"I applied to the University Scholar's program to gain real-life experience with research, from experimental design and field work to writing a scientific paper. Through the program, I hope to grow as a critical thinker and improve my communication skills as a scientist. I am able to interact with fellow undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members in the lab and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from others. I hope to go to graduate school in the future, and this experience will give me a clear snapshot of what to expect and how the scientific community operates."
- Evolutionary ecology
- Sexual Selection
- Decision Making
- Women's Student Association
- Libros de Familia
Hobbies and Interests
- Trips to the beach
Female size preference in the squash bug, Anasa andresii
I plan to investigate the role of male bias in across-species matings. Anasa tristis, the squash bug, is a widely distributed species that occurs throughout the state of Florida (Baranowski & Slater 1986). It is an important agricultural pests on many species of squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. Another closely related species, Anasa andresii, has only been reported in Alachua County and is thought to be recently introduced to Florida. Pilot data show that across-species mating is common between these two species, almost always occurring when A. andresii males attempt to mate with A. tristis females (Hamel & Miller, unpublished). Larger female insects tend to have greater reproductive capacity than smaller females, and A. tristis females are larger than A. andresii females. This suggests A. andresii males have a bias for larger females, and therefore A. tristis females. I will perform behavior trials to test my hypotheses. To determine whether A. andresii males have a sensory bias for larger females, I will simultaneously present each A. andresii male with a large and a small A. andresii female or a large and a small A. tristis female. I will score the number of male mating attempts for each female during each observation period and record the time elapsed until the first mating attempt. I will also test the preference of A. andresii males for females of their own species versus A. tristis females. Using the same methods as before, I will simultaneously present each A. andresii male with a female A. andresii and a female A. tristis. By assessing whether such matings are the result of a conflict between recognition of species-identity and mate-quality, I will lay the foundation for examining the evolutionary effects of these matings.