Welcome to the webpage of Susan N. Gershman. I study the evolution of animal behavior. I am most interested in sexual selection, differential reproduction caused by heritable differences in the ability to reproduce. I study how trade-offs within individuals, and interactions between individuals affect sexually selected traits. I also study the evolution of complex traits, and the effect of environment on the expression of complex traits.

I have primarily used crickets and Drosophila flies as my study systems, but I also work with other insects like bedbugs, beetles and Brood X cicadas. Although these animals are small and easily manipulated in the laboratory, the behaviors that they demonstrate are representative of similar interactions in other less tractable taxa. I also do field-to-lab based studies on the interactions between native and introduced field crickets.

Some of the research questions that I address include: How do animals allocate effort to traits important for reproduction versus other life history traits like growth and immunity? How do anthropogenic effects like sound, light, and chemicals influence these trade-offs? How do life history trade-offs affect the ability of introduced species to compete with native species?

To address these questions, my research draws on techniques from behavioral ecology, life history evolution, quantitative genetics, immunology, and analytical chemistry.

Males and females often have conflicting interests, which can affect the evolution of traits and behavior.

Trade-offs between effort spent on reproduction and other important functions can affect the evolution of sexually selected traits.

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