1. The impact of parents and early experiences on development and evolution
I use a combination of theory, comparative analyses and empirical observations to investigate how parents and early-life experiences affect individual development and contribute to evolutionary processes. I am interested in how the use of information within and across generations can explain sensitive windows and differential input from genes, parents and the environment to development. I have just started a research programme investigating the role of mother-offspring conflict on ecological and evolutionary processes in tsetse flies and other Diptera (see here for more details).
2. Individual variation in growth and cooperative behaviour
I am interested in the striking variation within and across cooperative societies in social specialization: why do some individuals specialize early and irreversibly as helpers rather than breeders, whereas others remain more flexible? What role do parents, helpers and the early-life environment play in determining life-history trajectories? I have investigated these questions in cooperative meerkats and am currently drawing broader comparisons across species.