E&E Seminar: The importance of environment: from reproduction to cognition

An individual’s environment can substantially impact its health, fitness, and the traits it invests energy to. This is something that I am particularly interested in and has been a focus of my research career to date. For example, reproduction is energetically costly for both males and females, and the energy obtained from diet is particularly important for reproductive investment. Moreover, as many of us probably experienced during the lockdowns over the last couple of years, stress and a lack of environmental enrichment can alter how our brain functions, including learning and memory. In my talk, I will present some of my research on the effects of diet on male investment in ‘post-copulatory’ traits (i.e., the ejaculate) – something that is particularly important in species where males compete to fertilise eggs. I will then present results from a recent meta-analysis on the interaction between stress and environmental enrichment on learning and memory in rodents. 


Erin Macartney is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Originally from Taranaki, New Zealand, she completed her undergrad studies in Ecology and Biodiversity at Victoria University of Wellington before jumping across the ditch to do a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology at UNSW where most of her research focused on studying male investment in reproduction. Since then, UNSW has captured her heart, and she has stayed on as post-doctoral researcher to hone her skills in meta-analysis.