Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
Field of Research (FoR)
My research explores how the social environment shapes the evolution of individual traits and behaviours. This broad research question results in my use of many different animals, including humans. My work using insects and spiders explores how changes in the density of males and females affects developmental decisions, and the outcome this has for how individuals perform and age. My research on humans explores how our...view more
My research explores how the social environment shapes the evolution of individual traits and behaviours. This broad research question results in my use of many different animals, including humans. My work using insects and spiders explores how changes in the density of males and females affects developmental decisions, and the outcome this has for how individuals perform and age. My research on humans explores how our evolutionary history can explain gender differences in the video games we choose to play
- Ph.D. Evolutionary Biology (University of Toronto, 2007)
- M.Sc. Ecology (Queen’s University, 2002)
- B.Sc. Biology (McMaster University, 2000)
- To understand how the environment affects gene expression and how htat is translated to the phenotype
- To understand how variation in the density of males and females affects individual mating strategies
- To understand how our evolutionary history can explain gender differences in video game preferences and use
Research in Detail
My research generally explores the innate differences between males and females and how the environment, both social and ecological, modifies these differences. I’m interested in how individuals maximize fitness in what seems to be a chaotic and unpredictable world. Often, this require individuals to use information available during development to best make developmental decisions across suites of traits to best succeed in a future environment.
I use crickets to explore how the ecological and social environment affects juvenile developmental decisions, and the affect this has on the adult phenotype. Much of this research also explores how these early environments affect changes and gene expression, and how this translates to morphological, behavioural, and physiological differences at maturity.
My research with spiders explores how ecological environments affect the density of males and females, and the different strategies males and females use to overcome these limitations. These studies are performed in the field and also using large scale laboratory manipulations.
I have also started collaborating with Tom Denson in Psychology in an exciting new direction where we are exploring how our evolutionary history can explain gender differences in gaming preferences and habits. We perform laboratory experiments as well as online surveys to understand why we play the video games we do and what they do to us.
You can find outmore about my research on my personal website www.michaelkasumovic.com.
- Hermon Slade Foundation 2012-2015, Understanding the role of the ecological and social environment in the evolution of complex communication in peacock spiders
- ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award 2012-2014, Re-evaluating evolution by examining developmental plasticity in response to the social environment
- ARC Discovery Grant 2012-2014, Adaptive plasticity and evolution: linking the genotype and the environment to understand phenotypic evolution and expression
Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)
Examining the role of neural investment in mate searching and learning in female crickets
How early brain investment moderates the winner and loser effect in male crickets
How early life-history decisions affect trade-offs in attracting mates, fighting, and predator escape
Examining the role of diet and temperature in the evolution of spider web mechanics
I have several projects currently happening in the lab and am always looking for students and post-docs. Projects range from completely behavioural and ecological, to studies examining changes in gene expression, and even projects trying to understand the human desire to play video games. If you’re interested in any of these topics and want to find out more, drop me a line here.
Advice for prospective students
As you can tell from my research interests above, I love what I do. It’s important that when you’re choosing a career science, to choose a direction that will keep you interested and having fun!
TEACHING & OUTREACH
Courses I teach
Professional affiliations and service positions
I am currently a Reviews Editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
I often contribute to The Conversation and find it’s a great venue to discuss my research with the public.
AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS
UNSW Faculty of Science Early Career Researcher Award (2012)
Life Science & Biological Sciences Scopus Young Research of the Year (2012)
American Society of Naturalists Young Investigator Prize (2011)
NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award Winner (2010)