Fran Tyler

PhD student Frances Tyler.

Behavioural reproductive barriers in crickets

University of Exeter

This project looked at understanding how species interact and the implications for genetic exchange between species, particularly in crickets.

Field crickets were once a common part of the Cornish eco-system, today they have become so rare in the UK that they are now being re-introduced. However, this process brings with it the risk of introducing the wrong genetic material.

University of Exeter PhD student Frances Tyler was specifically aiming to recognise the behaviours and mechanisms enforcing reproductive barriers in a new model system of hybridising field crickets. The research undertaken has enabled the discovery of barriers to interbreeding, the first of their kind to be demonstrated in field crickets.

Frances said: “As the principles of evolution work the same way across all species my findings can be used to answer some important questions relating to evolutionary biology.”

As the species that Frances has been focussing on throughout her research are endangered in the UK, the work carried out improves the knowledge of how these species interact with other closely related species and how they might behave in the wild. Should species ranges continue to shift due to reasons such as climate change, this knowledge will prove vastly important.