I am a PhD candidate studying evolutionary biology. I am broadly interested in evolutionary ecology and animal behaviour, and I am currently investigating how sexual conflict can affect the evolution of asexuality. I am inordinately fond of (stick) insects and fieldwork.
I previously earned a Master of Science in Entomology at the University of Florida, where I studied sexual selection in leaf-footed cactus bugs, specifically, how seasonally changing diets affect reproduction and the development of sexually-selected traits. Before that, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages (Magna Cum Laude) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where I did undergraduate research on high altitude adaptation in birds.
Project: The roles of sexual conflict and endosymbionts in maintaining distinct sexual and asexual populations in the facultative parthenogen Megacrania batesii (Phasmatodea: Phasmatidae)
Supervised by: Primary Supervisor: Russell Bonduriansky. Secondary Supervisors: Lee Ann Rollins and Suhelen Egan
Project Description: Evolutionary biologists have been puzzling over the paradox of sex for decades. We know sex has myriad costs, and yet most animals are obligately sexual. Asexuality has its own limitations, but theory predicts that a mixed strategy, like facultative parthenogenesis, should be most effective. Nonetheless, facultative parthenogens are rare. I am studying one of them, the peppermint stick insect (Megacrania batesii), to shed light on this puzzle. I am especially interested in why different populations of these animals employ different reproductive modes, and whether sexual conflict and microorganisms are playing a role.
Woodman, TE, S Chen, Z Emberts, **D Wilner**, W Federle, CW Miller (2021) Developmental nutrition affects the structural integrity of a sexually selected weapon. Integrative and Comparative Biology. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icab130
**Wilner, D**, EV Greenway, LA Cirino, CW Miller (2020) Long-term reproductive success is predicted by sexual behavior and impaired by temporary nutritional stress during sexual maturation. Behavioural Processes. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2020.104122
Greenway, EV, LA Cirino, **D Wilner**, U Somjee, M Anagnostou, RT Hepple, CW Miller (2019) Extreme variation in testes size in an insect is linked to recent mating activity. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13574