New paper: A comprehensive fitness landscape reveals context-dependent oviposition strategies in flour beetles

We are starting 2023 on a great footing, with a new paper reporting a lot of really nice work by Vrinda and Gaurav. For a long time we have been puzzled by seemingly maladaptive oviposition behaviours of female flour beetles faced with different resource options. By carefully manipulating egg allocation across resource patches, we were able to dissociate female choice from fitness outcomes and build comprehensive fitness landscapes. We found that females’ prior context (their age and experience with high competition) shapes their preferences, leading different females to behaviours that optimize distinct fitness components. Our results suggest that female context may partly explain observed behavioural variation, and clarifies conditions under which some of the “odd” behaviours are adaptive. This work has also led to new evolutionary predictions that are now being tested by PhD student Shubha Govindarajan. To find more, read the new paper!

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