In many animals, males express exaggerated secondary sexual traits that they use as weapons or ornaments in competition for mates. A basic premise of sexual selection theory is that such traits impose viability costs – that is, they reduce male survival. Yet, the nature of these costs is still very poorly understood.


This project: The Cost of Exaggerated Secondary Sexual Traits, involves innovative experiments to test for costs of expressing exaggerated secondary sexual traits in neriid flies. In particular, these experiments will establish whether males that express the most exaggerated secondary sexual traits suffer reduced viability at the juvenile stage. This may potentially reveal a novel cost of expressing such traits.

Student benefits

You’ll conduct cutting-edge research on a high-profile question in evolutionary ecology. Through this project, you’ll learn how to:

  • design and carry out experiments
  • carry out sophisticated statistical analysis
  • write an influential scientific paper

Honours students in the Bonduriansky lab often publish their work in prestigious journals, such as:

  • The American Naturalist
  • Functional Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Scientific Reports.

Get involved

To learn more about this project, contact Professor Russell Bonduriansky.

T: +61 2 9385 3439