Potential Master's projects
Reduced fertility under heat stress: What are the downstream consequences?
Climate change is causing more extreme temperature fluctuations, including more widespread, longer, and more intense heatwaves. Extreme weather events can have damaging effects on organisms and cause species declines, extinctions, or range shifts across ecosystems. Animals like insects, whose physiology and metabolism are directly linked to their ambient temperature, are particularly affected. For better predictions of population distributions and persistence, we need to know how extreme conditions not only affect the survival of individuals but also their ability to reproduce. For example, there is growing evidence that heat stress can cause infertility in insects (e.g., due to sperm damage), but individuals below the sterility threshold may be affected in their own, but unexplored, way. Using experimental heatwaves at different life stages in our insect model systems (e.g., Drosophila), this project will explore (1) the short- and long-term fertility reduction in exposed individuals, and (2) the health and fertility consequences for their offspring (i.e., transgenerational effects). A Master's student will work alongside a PhD student and conduct their independent research as part of a bigger project.