The 'Chemistry' of Reproduction


Friday, 28 April, 2017 -
15:00 to 16:00


Mathews Theatre D, Mathews Building, UNSW Kensington Campus


Evolution and Ecology Research Centre

Type of event: 


It has been argued that chemical communication is the last frontier in animal behaviour. While considerable research over the past two decades has shown that chemicals play a key role in regulating reproductive behaviours, it is safe to say that we are still unravelling much of this complexity. Professor John Hunt will talk about his research examining the role of “chemicals” in regulating the pre and post-copulatory reproductive behaviours of female decorated crickets, Gryllodes sigillatus. In this species, cuticular hydrocarbons play a central role in mate choice behaviours and the maintenance of polyandry. After mating, free amino acids and sex peptides contained in the spermatophylax (a nuptial gift produced by the male and fed to the female during mating) regulates female post-copulatory mate choice and remating behaviour. He will also present some new work suggesting that these changes in behaviour are the result of differential gene expression in the head and gut of females consuming this gift.


Professor John Hunt has an undergraduate degree in Zoology and a PhD in Evolutionary Biology, both from the University of Western Australia. His research interests span many disciplines, including behavioural ecology, animal behaviour, chemical ecology, nutritional ecology and quantitative genetics. He has held several prestigious fellowships, including an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of New South Wales (2002 – 2005), a NERC Fellowship at the University of Manchester (2005 - 2008) and a Royal Society Fellowship at the University of Exeter (2008 – 2016). He is now a Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Western Sydney University (Hawkesbury Campus).