Gemmell lab PhD student Upendra Bhattarai has just published in Trends in Parasitology, with an article written with fellow PhD student Jean-Francois Doherty, from the Poulin lab (Zoology Department, University of Otago), Gemmell lab Research Fellow Eddy Dowle (who is also co-supervising Upendra's doctoral work) and Neil Gemmell.
Some parasites are able to manipulate the behaviour of their host (see our Mind-controlling parasites page). Upendra's article, entitled "The adaptiveness of host behavioural manipulation assessed using Tinbergen's four questions", addresses how to decide when such manipulation is an adaptive trait. It provides new insights by aligning Tinbergen’s four questions of animal behaviour (causation, fitness effects, ontology, and evolution) against Poulin’s 1995 criteria for adaptive host behavioural modification (fitness effects, complexity, purposiveness of design, and convergence). This mapping reveals the importance of understanding both the mechanisms and the evolutionary history of adaptive host behavioural manipulation, and enables Upendra to offer four guidelines for future study.
Congratulations to Upendra and his collaborators!