Pike Research Group: Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology


Our basic interest lies in understanding how the interplay of an organism’s genes and environment shapes its nature. We attempt to learn more about adaptive plasticity in many of its guises by focussing on the fields of ecology, evolution and behaviour.

The majority of current research in our group here in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford aims to elucidate the issue of phenotypic plasticity. Using clonal organisms such as aphids and springtails, we are isolating and quantifying the phenotypic responses that are veritably attributable to adaptive plasticity. We are examining the variability in these effects over time, in different environments, and both within and across generations. To learn about the costs and benefits of maintaining the flexibility that phenotypic plasticity provides, we work to identify the periods in which model organisms are most sensitive to the cues that induce phenotypic divergences and we then quantify the potential for these organisms to re-adjust their phenotypes in changing environments. Because all organisms are adapted to some extent to live in unpredictable environments, understanding how phenotypic plasticity determines ecological and evolutionary trajectories has a very broad relevance.

Brief Biography

Nathan has been a lecturer within the Department of Zoology since 2004. Prior to that, he held positions including a Marie Curie Independent Research fellowship at the University of Paris VI and a European Union Research Training Network fellowship at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. He did his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge and his M.Sc. and B.Sc. (Hons I) degrees at the University of Sydney. He also holds the University of Oxford's Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, a formal lecturing qualification that involves one year of study. He is a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and the Higher Education Academy.

Teaching Activities

Nathan is the Degree Co-ordinator of the University of Oxford's M.Sc. in Biology (Integrative Bioscience). (In this role, he works closely with Dr David Shotton). The M.Sc. degree provides advanced training in topics and research techniques from the full spectrum of Biology. The taught courses include Animal Behaviour, Cell and Developmental Biology, Mathematical Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Ornithology, Molecular Biology, Experimental Design, Scientific Communication, and Statistics. The excellent students who engage in the degree programme must also undertake two three-month research projects based in dissimilar fields. Nathan is the Course Organiser of "Research in Animal Behaviour" and "Research in Mathematical Biology" and also provides a range of other lectures and tutorials to both undergraduates and graduates on topics including entomology, population and evolutionary ecology, sociobiology and experimental design and analysis.

Email    nathan.pike.1998@pem.cam.ac.uk

Michael Jones

Maternal age effects on life history traits in collembolans
Email    michael.jones@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Nina Hafer

Fitness outcomes of transgenerational effects in the Folsomia candida model system
Email    nina.hafer@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Syazana Ebil

Context dependence of maternal effects in Folsomia candida
Email    syazana.ebil@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Sorcha McGinty

Consequences of canalisation in Collembola
Email    sorcha.mcginty@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Mitashi Singh

The effect of egg age on partial filial cannibalism in assassin bugs
Email    mitashi.singh@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Anna Moynihan

When in the life history of Folsomia candida is phenotypic plasticity adaptive?
Email    anna.moynihan@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Rachel Kingcombe

The role of Wolbachia in the parthenogenesis of its diplodiploid collembolan host
Email    rachel.kingcombe@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Hafer, N., S. Ebil, T. Uller and N. Pike (2011)
Transgenerational effects of food availability on age at maturity and reproductive output in an asexual collembolan species. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0139.

Pike, N. (2010)
Using false discovery rates for multiple comparisons in ecology and evolution. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 2: 137-141 DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2010.00061.x.

Hafer, N. and N. Pike (2010)
Shape change in viable eggs of the collembolan Folsomia candida provides insight into the role of Wolbachia endosymbionts. Zoological Research. 31: 623-626.

Pike, N. (2010)
A comparison of the amino acid profiles of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and the social aphid species, Pemphigus spyrothecae (Hemiptera: Aphididae). European Journal of Entomology. 107: 461-463.

Pike, N. and R. Kingcombe (2009)
Antibiotic treatment leads to the elimination of Wolbachia endosymbionts and sterility in the diplodiploid collembolan Folsomia candida. BMC Biology. 7: 54.

Pike, N. (2009)
Exploring Teaching and Learning in the Graduate Biosciences. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken.

Pike, N. and W. A. Foster (2008)
The ecology of altruism in a clonal insect.  In J. Korb & J. Heinze (eds) Ecology of Social Evolution. Springer, Berlin.

Pike, N., J. A. Whitfield and W. A. Foster (2007)
Ecological correlates of sociality in Pemphigus aphids, with a partial phylogeny of the genus. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 7: 185.

Pike, N. (2007)
Specialised placement of morphs within the gall of the social aphid Pemphigus spyrothecae. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 7: 18.

Pike, N. and A. Manica (2006)
The optimal balance of defence investment strategies in clonal colonies of social aphids. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 60: 803–814.

Pike, N. and A. Manica (2006)
The basis of cowardice in social defenders. Ecological Modelling. 196: 275-282.

Pike, N., T. Tully, P. Haccou and R. Ferrière (2004)
The effect of autocorrelation in environmental variability on the persistence of populations: an experimental test. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 271: 2143-2148.

Wang, W. Y. S. and N. Pike (2004)
The allelic spectra of common diseases may resemble the allelic spectrum of the full genome. Medical Hypotheses. 63: 748-751.

Pike, N. and W. A. Foster (2004)
Fortress repair in the social aphid species, Pemphigus spyrothecae. Animal Behaviour. 67: 909-914.

Pike, N. (2004)
Natural incidence of fruit flies with character states intermediate to those of the sibling species Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) and Bactrocera neohumeralis (Hardy) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Australian Journal of Entomology. 43: 23-27.

Pike, N., C Braendle and W. A. Foster (2004)
Seasonal extension of the soldier instar as a route to increased defence investment in the social aphid Pemphigus spyrothecae. Ecological Entomology. 29: 89-95.

Meats, A., N. Pike, X. An, K. Raphael and W. Y. S. Wang (2003)
The effects of selection for early (day) and late (dusk) mating lines of hybrids of Bactrocera tryoni and Bactrocera neohumeralis. Genetica. 119: 283-293.

Pike, N., W. Y. S. Wang and A. Meats (2003)
The likely fate of hybrids of Bactrocera tryoni and Bactrocera neohumeralis. Heredity. 90: 365-370.

Pike, N. and A. Meats (2003)
Tendency for upwind movement in the sibling fruit fly species, Bactrocera tryoni and Bactrocera neohumeralis and their hybrids (Diptera: Tephritidae): influence of time of day, sex and airborne pheromone. Bulletin of Entomological Research. 93: 173-178.

Pike, N., D. Richard, W. Foster and L. Mahadevan (2002)
How aphids lose their marbles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 269: 1211-1215.

Pike, N. and A. Meats (2002)
Potential for mating between Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) and Bactrocera neohumeralis (Hardy) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Australian Journal of Entomology. 41: 70-74.

Online calculator designed for ecologists and evolutionary biologists for making multiple statistical comparisons using False Discovery Rates

This calculator can also be downloaded as spreadsheet code: FDR_Calculator.xls

This material supports Pike (2010), as published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Macro code for ImageJ
This annotated code was written to automate the process of obtaining population sizes and individual body measurements from high-resolution photographs of animal populations. Feel free to modify the code to suit your own purpose.

C++ code for modelling population dynamics in migratory organisms and organisms with alternating life cycles.   (A collaboration with Dr A. Manica)
When compiling for your platform, be sure to include the MathLib library as well as the standard C++ libraries.
This code was originally produced to model populations of galling aphids. Again, use and modify it as you see fit.
Nathan Pike
Department of Zoology
South Parks Road
Oxford   OX1 3PS   UK
Email   nathan.pike.1998@pem.cam.ac.uk
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Telephone: + 44 1865 271119
Facsimile: + 44 1865 310447