Katie Stopher

Room 134,

Ashworth Laboratory

King's Buildings

Telephone: 0131 650 7702

Email: k.v.stopher @ sms.ed.ac.uk

2011 - present

NERC- funded PDRA "Explaining responses to climate change in a wild vertebrate population"

2007 - 2011 

PhD Mating patterns in red deer, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh

2006 - 2007

MRes, Ecology, Evolutionan and Conservation, Imperial College

2003 - 2006

BA (Hons) Zoology, Cambridge University

 

Research Interests

PhD:

Red deer are a classic sexually-selected species in which, in a short annual rut, males defend harems of females from other males. However, there is considerable inter-annual variation in the rut, both in terms of distribution of annual breeding success amongst males, and the behaviours observed. Some of this variation can be explained by changes in adult sex ratio, but I aim to conduct a more complete analysis of the mating system.

 

I will consider what determines the dynamics of the rut, and the distribution of male mating success at population level. As well as sex ratio, possible factors include number, age and experience of competing stags, the number, age and condition of adult females and the weather. Climatic variation has been recently linked to inter-year variation in the distribution of male mating success in grey seals, and if this result is widespread it has important implications for the way climate change could affect levels of genetic variation in species.

 

Further, I will investigate what determines precisely who mates with who at the individual level. In this type of breeding system, it is generally assumed there is little scope for female choice, but is this true? Females may for example influence variance in male reproductive success through copying behaviour, or choose males with specific phenotypes. Females may avoid male relatives, mate with the same male more than expected by chance, or female relatives may mate with the same male more than expected by chance as has recently been shown for greater horseshoe bats. My aim is to look for these effects in the population, and understand their consequences for genetic varation.