Iona Cunningham-Eurich

Iona Cunningham-Eurich

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Iona Cunningham-Eurich

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Start Year

2021 (Cohort 8)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Understanding generalism and specialism in parasitoid wasps: an evolutionary, genomic and behavioural perspective

Research Theme

Evolution and Adaptation

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


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One of the overarching questions in ecology and evolution is understanding how resources are divided between species; different patterns of resource use shape the ecological landscape. Some species are highly flexible in their resource use, whilst others only exploit a narrow subset of resources available to them. These are respectively known as ecological generalists and specialists. Understanding the differences between the two has major implications for a variety of research applications, including speciation and adaptive radiations, ecological community structure, responses to climate change and invasive species management. The ability of a species to exploit a given resource is influenced by its morphological, physiological and behavioural traits, which are often the result of its environment and underlying genetics. In this project, I will be focusing on specialism and generalism in parasitoid wasps, a large, diverse clade of insects which exhibit vast differences in dietary preferences. I will use these wasps as model organisms to address outstanding questions on the evolution of generalism and specialism, as well as the factors underlying these shifts using evolutionary, genomic and behavioural approaches.

Policy Impact
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