The Australian neriid flies are amazing members of the local fauna. A notable feature of this species is extreme variation in body size, shape and behaviour. Experiments in our lab have shown that much of this variation is caused by variation in nutrients in the larval diet.

When flies are provided with abundant nutrients as larvae, they grow large, and males develop exaggerated secondary sexual traits and an aggressive disposition. This suggests an intriguing possibility: since nutrients vary extensively in both time and space in natural environments, could it be that many features of the mating system of these flies in the wild are also shaped by larval nutrition?


This research will reveal, for the first time, the extent to which environmental variation in nutrient abundance can shape mating systems.

In this project, you’ll conduct the following:

  • experimentally manipulate larval diet
  • investigate effects on mating system parameters such as fighting, territoriality and mating.

Student benefits 

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