Dr Sarah Lane
Profiles

Dr Sarah Lane

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Role

I’m a behavioural ecologist interested in different forms of animal conflict. My current research with Professor Mark Briffa focuses on the the idea that a good fighter may not always be the one who fights with the most vigour, but that skill may play a role in determining fighting success too. While we know that skill plays an important role in human conflict, both in warfare and sports, this phenomenon has yet to be explored in animal contests.



Qualifications

2018-present Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Plymouth - ‘The role of skill in animal contests: analysis of a neglected RHP trait in fighting hermit crab’ (Named Researcher Co-I, Prof Mark Briffa as PI)
2015- 2018 Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Plymouth - The role of additive and non-additive genetic effects during animal contests in the beadlet sea anemone Actinia equina’ (with Prof Mark Briffa, Prof Alistair Wilson (Uni of Exeter) & Dr Manuela Truebano Garcia)
2012-2015 PhD "The role of cuticular hydrocarbons in determining male reproductive success", University of Exeter, Penryn Campus
2011-2012 MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology (with Distinction), University of Exeter, Penryn Campus
2008-2011 BSc Zoology (Hons) 1st class, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus


OTHER ROLES
2018-Present: Post-doc representative for School of Biological and Marine Science’s Athena SWAN panel.
2017-2018: Member of the organising committee for Easter 2018 conference of Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).
2016-2018 Early Career Researcher representative on Plymouth University's central Athena SWAN SAT (Self- assessment) team
2016-2017 Co-ordinator of fortnightly Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre (MBERC) departmental seminars

AWARDS

2013 Biosciences School Commendation for Outstanding Research Project (MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology 2011/12)

Professional membership

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)
British Ecological Society (BES)

Roles on external bodies

Member of the British Ecological Society (BES) Review College


Biology Letters editorial board member

Research interests

I’m fascinated by the many different forms of conflict which result from sexual and natural selection. I spent my PhD investigating sexual conflict and sperm competition in the broad-horned flour beetle Gnatocerus cornutus. During this time I watched a lot of interactions both male-male and male-female, in which males would often court other males while aggressively wrestling with females. These observations of unexpected and seemingly maladaptive behaviour sparked my interest in social interactions, in particular agonistic encounters.

My current research focuses on the the idea that a good fighter may not always be the one who fights with the most vigour, but that skill may play a role in determining fighting success too. While we know that skill plays an important role in human conflict, both in warfare and sports, this phenomenon has yet to be explored in animal contests. Professor Mark Briffa and I have recently secured a BBSRC grant to explore the role of skill in hermit crab fights using the common European hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. Unlike many crustaceans, hermit crabs have soft abdomens making them vulnerable to predation unless they can secure the safety of an empty gastropod shell. However, not just any shell will do, hermit crabs need a perfect fit which will allow them to retract their whole body inside when threatened but that is still easy to move around in. Thus hermit crabs grapple with one another over the ownership of the ‘perfect’ shell. During these fights, hermit crabs take on either the role of the attacker or the role of the defender (whose shell has caught the attention of the attacker). In an effort to make the defender give up the goods, the attacker raps its shell against the defender’s shell, all the while trying to pull the defender out. We know from previous research that the likelihood of the attacker succeeding is influenced by the vigour with which he raps but we want to know whether where he raps matters too. For instance is an attacker who raps on the same spot continually more likely to secure a victory? Or is it better to cover a greater area of the defender’s shell in raps? These are just some of the questions we hope to answer with this project over the next three years.

Outside of hermit crabs, I am eager to learn more about the use of weapons during conflicts and the injuries that they inflict. What differentiates weapons from other kinds of traits? How do individuals cope with the costs of using weapons (specifically self-inflicted damage)? How do the costs of injury affect fighting decisions?

Creative practice & artistic projects

Outreach and media

May 2018: 'Fighting like an animal doesn't always mean a duel to the death' - Science News magazine

July 2017: A short monologue pitching sea anemones as the 'critter of the week' for The Naked Scientists' marine month, you can listen to it here: - Critter of the Week: Sea Anemones

Key publications are highlighted

Journals

Lane, S. M., Wilson, A. J., Briffa, M. In Press. Analysis of direct and indirect genetic effects in fighting sea anemones. Behavioural Ecology.

Lane, S. M. & Briffa, M. 2018 How does the environment affect fighting? The interaction between extrinsic fighting ability and resource value during contests. Journal of Experimental Biology. 221: jeb.187740

Lane, S. M. 2018 What is a weapon? Integrative and Comparative Biology. icy083

Lane, S. M., & Briffa, M. 2018 Immune function and the decision to deploy weapons during fights in the beadlet anemone Actinia equina. Journal of Experimental Biology. 221: jeb169201

Briffa, M., & Lane, S. M. 2017 The role of skill in animal contests: A neglected component of fighting ability. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 284: 20171596.

Lane, S. M., & Briffa, M. 2017 Boldness is for rookies: Pre-fight boldness and fighting success in a sea anemone. Animal Behaviour. 132: 13-20.

Lane, S. M., & Briffa, M. 2017 The price of attack: Rethinking damage costs in animal contests. Animal Behaviour. 126: 23-29.

Lane, S. M., Dickinson, A. W., Tregenza, T., House, C. M. 2016 Sexual selection on male cuticular hydrocarbons via male-male competition and female choice. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 29: 1346-1355.

Lane, S. M., Haughan, A. E., Evans, D., Tregenza, T., House, C. M. 2016 Same-sex sexual behaviour as a dominance display. Animal Behaviour. 114: 113-118.

Rapkin, J., Jensen, K., Lane, S. M., House, C. M., Sakaluk, S. K., Hunt, J. 2015 Macronutrient intake regulates sexual conflict in decorated crickets. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 29(2): 395-406.

House, C. M., Jensen, K., Rapkin, J., Lane, S. M., Okada, K., Hosken, D. J., Hunt, J. 2015 Macronutrient balance mediates the growth of sexually selected weapons but not genitalia in male broad horned flour beetles. Functional Ecology. 30(5):769-779.

Lane, S. M., Solino, J. H., Mitchell, C., Blount, J. D., Okada, K., Hunt, J., House C. M. 2015 Rival male chemical cues evoke changes in male pre- and post-copulatory investment in a flour beetle. Behavioural Ecology. 26(4):1021-1029.

Ingleby, F. C., Hosken, D. J., Flowers, K., Hawkes, M. F., Lane, S. M., Rapkin, J., House, C. M., Sharma, M. D., Hunt, J. 2014 Environmental heterogeneity, multivariate sexual selection, and genetic constraints on cuticular hydrocarbons in Drosophila simulans. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 27(4): 700-713.

Ingleby, F. C., Hosken, D. J., Flowers, K., Hawkes, M. F., Lane, S. M., Rapkin, J., Dworkin, I., Hunt, J. 2013 Genotype by environment interactions for cuticular hydrocarbon expression in Drosophila simulans. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 26: 94-107.


Chapters

Briffa, M. & Lane, S. M. 2018 Signals in conflict resolution: Conventional signals, aggression and territoriality. In Breed, M. D. & Moore, J (Eds) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (2nd ed.) Elsevier.

Reports & invited lectures

INVITED TALKS

October 2019: University of Exeter, UK. Talk title: ‘Animal contests: Insights into injury and skill’

January 2019: Universität Bielefeld, Germany. Talk title: ‘Sea anemone contests: Drivers and constraints’

January 2019: Coastwise North Devon, Barnstaple, UK. Talk title: ‘The fighting life of sea anemones’

March 2018 Queen’s University Belfast. Talk title: ‘Costs and determinants of weapon use in animal contests’

March 2018 Plymouth University. Talk title: ‘Costs and determinants of weapon use in animal contests’

February 2017 University of Exeter. Talk title: ‘From BSc Zoology to researching anemones’

GUEST LECTURES

May 2018 

Guest lecturer on third year Behavioural Ecology module, Plymouth University, UK.

March 2017 Guest lecturer on third year Behavioural Ecology module, Plymouth University, UK.



Other academic activities

CONFERENCES ATTENDED

August 2017 Behaviour 2017, Estoril, Portugal. Oral presentation: 'Immune function as a cause and consequence of weapon use'

June 2017 Contests: Theory and Evidence, Norwich, UK. Oral presentation: 'The price of attack: Rethinking damage costs in animal contests'

August 2016 16th Congress of the International Society for Behavioural Ecology, Exeter, UK. Oral presentation: 'Can post-fight changes in boldness explain subsequent fighting success?'

June 2015 52nd Annual conference of the Animal Behaviour Society, Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Oral presentation: 'Male flour beetles alter both pre and post-copulatory investment in response to rival Male chemical cues'

May 2014 10th Ecology and Behaviour meeting, Montpellier, France. Oral presentation: 'Perception of sperm competition risk is altered by the presence of male-derivedcuticular hydrocarbons in the broad-horned flour beetle Gnatocerus cornutus'


REVIEWER FOR

Acta Ethologica
Animal Behaviour
Behavioural Processes
Biological Invasions
Ethology
Heredity
Journal of Herpetology
Marine and Freshwater Research
Physiological Entomology

Links

Personal webpage: https://sarahlanebehaviour.wordpress.com/

ResearchGate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sarah_Lane3