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The arms race between prey and predators is a central theme in evolutionary biology, yet some of the most striking of prey defences have been consistently overlooked. Classic studies on animal defences focus on bright colours, cryptic patterns, noxious chemicals and warning calls. Focus has rarely fallen on the dynamic between prey and predator in which, when under attack, prey attempt to frighten their predators by suddenly unleashing an unanticipated defence such as revealing a brightly coloured or patterned part of their body, emitting a loud sound and/or exuding a noxious chemical. Such deimatic displays (from the Greek ‘to frighten’) are multicomponent, often multimodal defences. In this presentation I will discuss the deimatic display of the mountain katydid and what it might teach us about how we understand dynamic defences in general.
Dr Kate Umbers, School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury
Kate completed her BSc at Macquarie University in Sydney and stayed at Macquarie for her honours project and PhD. Kate's honours project was supervised by Gregory Holwell & Marie Herberstein looking at paternity in Ciulfina praying mantis. Kate's PhD focused on the adaptive significance of temperature-dependent colour change (thermochromy) in an Australian alpine grasshopper (Kosciuscola tristis), supervised primarily by Marie Herberstein. After graduating from her PhD in 2011, Kate accepted a one-year Postdoctoral position shared between Scott Keogh's Lab and Hanna Kokko's Lab at The Australian National University. In 2013 Kate was awarded a Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Wollongong to work on frog defences with Phillip Byrne. This continuing work focuses on the red crowned toadlet (Pseudophryne australis) and the corroboree frog (P. corroboree). Complementary to her focus on frog defences Kate is looking at the defensive displays of blue-tongue skinks with Martin Whiting at Macquarie University. Kate continues to work on two alpine Orthoptera projects: the deimatic display of the mountain katydid (Acripeza reticulata) with Johanna Mappes and the population genomics of the Kosciuscola grasshoppers with Nikolai Tatarnic, Rachel Slatyer and Hojun Song. Since Feb 2015 Kate has been a Lecturer in Zoology at Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury.