So far in this blog, we've covered a lot of different topics--defining sex and gender, different types of hermaphroditism, transgenderism, and more. We've covered a lot of ground. But sex and gender are absolutely enormous topics, and we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg. For Week 9, I dove into a folder of papers … Continue reading Week 9a: sex in nature – when weird is normal
Week 08: Homosexuality in Nature
Have you ever wondered if, how, or why animals engage in homosexual (same sex) behavior? In nature, homosexual, or same-sex sexual behavior, can take many forms. Two common homosexual behaviors include courting and mounting. Courtship includes any behavior used to attract a mate and can involve ornate displays and posturing, while mounting is the actual … Continue reading Week 08: Homosexuality in Nature
Week 07: Does transgenderism exist in nature? Some examples in birds and insects
Being transgender myself, I have often wondered if there are similar manifestations of gender expression in other species. This discussion seemed like the perfect place to explore this topic. There were quite a few papers to choose from. I picked two papers about birds, and one about insects because I felt that they provided the … Continue reading Week 07: Does transgenderism exist in nature? Some examples in birds and insects
Week 06: Sequential Hermaphroditism (or why to be wary of frog DNA)
Last week, we discussed one type of hermaphroditism: simultaneous (also known as synchronous) hermaphroditism, in which an individual produces both eggs and sperm at the same time (see Serena’s awesome blog post here for more info!) This week, we moved on to the other type of hermaphroditism: sequential hermaphroditism. A sequential hermaphrodite is an individual … Continue reading Week 06: Sequential Hermaphroditism (or why to be wary of frog DNA)
Week 05: Simultaneous Hermaphroditism
As an evolutionary biologist and an invertebrate zoologist, I’ve long been interested in the diversity of mating systems that are found in animals (and plants!). In particular, I’m interested in the co-occurrence of male and female traits in a single individual. How does having both male and female traits influence who you mate with and … Continue reading Week 05: Simultaneous Hermaphroditism
Week 04: Anisogamy – it matters
In species where anisogamy occurs, the sexes are defined by gamete size. Those individuals with large gametes, called eggs, are defined to be females; while those individuals with small gametes (sperm) are defined to be males. But differences between males and females extend beyond gamete size - there are differences in behavior and appearance too. … Continue reading Week 04: Anisogamy – it matters
Week 03: Why are sperm so small? Or, how did anisogamy evolve?
During the first week of this course, I jumped at the chance to lead a discussion on the evolution of anisogamy. I wanted to share research I first encountered at a conference in August -- results from a lab that works in algae systems which have natural variation not only in sex determination mechanisms and … Continue reading Week 03: Why are sperm so small? Or, how did anisogamy evolve?
Week 02: Sexual vs. Asexual Reproduction
Discussion Overview: This week’s meeting focused on asexuality. Last week we defined asexuality, for the purposes of this seminar, as reproduction by an all-female (single sex) species that does not require fertilization by sperm. This week, we delved into the life cycles of several organisms that rely on asexuality for some or all of their … Continue reading Week 02: Sexual vs. Asexual Reproduction
Week 01: What is sex? What is gender?
Discussion Overview: Hi all, thanks for coming to the first meeting of the ECL 290: Gender and Sexuality in Nature seminar! We're really excited that this seminar is officially underway, and that we have a great group of people with diverse academic backgrounds to contribute to our weekly discussions. The goal of our first meeting, … Continue reading Week 01: What is sex? What is gender?