Abstracts (first author)
Fewer invited talks by women in evolutionary biology: men accept invitations to speak more often than womenPDF
Lower ‘visibility’ of female scientists, compared to male scientists, is a potential reason for the under-representation of women among senior academic ranks. Visibility in the scientific community stems partly from presenting research as an invited speaker at organised meetings. We analysed the sex ratio of presenters at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology Congress 2011, where all abstract submissions were accepted for presentation. Women were under-represented among invited speakers at symposia (15% women) compared to all presenters (46%), regular oral presenters (41%) and plenary speakers (25%). At the ESEB congresses in 2001–2011, 8–23% of invited speakers were women. This under-representation of women is partly attributable to a larger proportion of women, than men, declining invitations: in 2011, 50% of women declined an invitation to speak compared to 26% of men. We expect invited speakers to be senior scientists or authors of recent papers in high-impact journals. Considering all invited speakers (including declined invitations), 23% were women. This was lower than the baseline sex ratios of early–mid career stage scientists, but was similar to senior scientists and authors published in high-impact journals. High-quality science by women therefore has low exposure at international meetings, which will constrain Evolutionary Biology from reaching its full potential. We wish to highlight the wider implications of turning down invitations to speak. In particular, under-representation of women among invited speakers reduces the number of female role models for evolutionary biology students and contributes to the leaky pipeline. We encourage conference organisers to implement steps to increase acceptance rates of invited talks.
Age-specific breeding success in a wild mammalian population: selection, constraint, restraint and senescencePDF
The Selection, Constraint, Restraint, and Senescence Hypotheses predict how breeding success should vary with age. The Selection Hypothesis predicts between-individual variation arising from quality differences; the other hypotheses predict within-individual variation due to differing skills or physiological condition (Constraint), residual reproductive lifespan (Restraint), or somatic and reproductive investment (Senescence). Studies tend to focus on either the initial increase in breeding success or later decrease; however, both require consideration when unravelling the underlying evolutionary processes. Additionally, few studies present genetic fitness measures, and rarely for both sexes. We therefore test these four hypotheses, which are not mutually exclusive, in a high-density population of European badgers Meles meles. Using an 18-year dataset (including 22 microsatellite loci) we show an initial improvement in breeding success with age, followed by a later and steeper rate of reproductive senescence in males than in females. Breeding success was skewed within age-classes indicating the influence of factors other than age-class. This was partly attributable to selective appearance and disappearance of badgers (Selection Hypothesis). Individuals with a late age of last breeding showed a concave down relationship between breeding success and experience (Constraint Hypothesis). There was no evidence of abrupt terminal effects; rather, individuals showed a concave down relationship between breeding success and residual reproductive lifespan (Restraint Hypothesis), with an interaction with age of first breeding only in females. Our results demonstrate the importance of investigating a comprehensive suite of factors in age-specific breeding success analyses, in both sexes, in order to fully understand evolutionary and population dynamics.