I am interested in environmental effects on traits such as lifespan, aging and reproduction. My research focuses on how these life-history traits respond to diet, and how the artificial environment of the laboratory may interact with these responses and skew our understanding of adaptive plasticity in aging. For example, dietary restriction – a severe reduction in food availability without starvation – is well known to extend lifespan and reduce reproduction in a wide range of species. These responses have long been thought to represent an evolutionary adaptation to famine, whereby animals re-allocate nutritional resources from reproduction to body maintenance, to promote survival until food returns. I’m not convinced by this theory, in part because mortality rates are very high for many wild animals, making any delay in reproduction likely to result in a severe fitness cost. There is also evidence that dietary restriction increases susceptibility to environmental hazards, such as cold temperatures and pathogens. While these challenges are usually absent in the benign environment of the laboratory, they are major sources of mortality in the wild, so animals facing a food shortage in a more natural environment might experience a reduction, rather than an increase, in survival. My research in the Rowe Lab aims to test these ideas empirically, by manipulating diet in a natural environment and measuring effects on lifespan and reproduction. I’ll be conducting this work using the unofficial Rowe Lab mascot, the water strider, at the Koffler Scientific Reserve.
Adler, M. (2010). Sexual conflict in waterfowl: why do females resist extrapair copulations? Behavioral Ecology, 21(1), 182-192. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arp160
Adler, M. I., & Bonduriansky, R. (2011). The dissimilar costs of love and war: age‐specific mortality as a function of the operational sex ratio. Journal of evolutionary biology, 24(6), 1169-1177. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02250.x
Adler, M. I., & Bonduriansky, R. (2013). Paternal effects on offspring fitness reflect father’s social environment. Evolutionary Biology, 40(2), 288-292. doi: 10.1007/s11692-012-9211-6
Adler, M. I., Cassidy, E. J., Fricke, C., & Bonduriansky, R. (2013). The lifespan-reproduction trade-off under dietary restriction is sex-specific and context-dependent. Experimental gerontology, 48(6), 539-548. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2013.03.007
Adler, M. I., & Bonduriansky, R. (2014). Why do the well‐fed appear to die young?. BioEssays. doi: 10.1002/bies.201300165
Adler, M.I. & Bonduriansky, R. (In Press). Sexual conflict, lifespan and ageing. In Gavrilets, S. Rice, W.R., eds; Sexual Conflict: Cold Spring Harbor Press.