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Dr Benjamin Jarrett

Dr Benjamin Jarrett

Research Assistant

Room F25
Office Phone: 01223 (3)31861


I have recently completed my PhD on the role of parental care in evolution in the group of Prof. Rebecca Kilner. We use the burying beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides) to understand the evolutionary consequences of parental care. These beetles breed on dead vertebrates and looks after their offspring, by preparing the carrion nest and by provisioning their larvae with food, much like a bird. I have used a combination of artificial selection, experimental evolution, quantitative genetics, and field work to show that parents change how populations respond to selection, and that parents induce new selection pressures on their offspring.

Prior to Cambridge

I graduated from Durham University in 2010 with a BSc in Zoology, focusing on moth diversity and insect communities in my third year. I immediately followed my undergraduate studies with an MSc in Entomology at Imperial College London, furthering my interest in insect biology. My thesis, in collaboration with Prof. Tim Coulson and Dr. David Morgan, concerned the invasion of Homalodisca vitripennis; a cicadellid pest that vectors plant pathogens to several economically important crops in southern California. The California Department of Food and Agriculture have been releasing parasitoid wasps to combat the pest, and have collected over ten years of data, which I analysed to determine the effect of this biological control programme.

From January to April 2012, I worked in Borneo with OuTrop, an orang-utan conservation organisation, as the biodiversity intern, collecting data on ant community structure within the peat swamp forest, and helping to collect data on butterfly diversity, and orang-utan and gibbon behaviour. Following this I worked for Prof. Jane Memmott at the University of Bristol on the Urban Pollinator Project.

Key Publications

Pascoal, S., Jarrett, B.J.M., Evans, E. & Kilner, R.M. (2018) Superior stimulation of female fecundity by subordinate males provides a mechanism for telegony. Evolution Letters

Jarrett, B.J.M. & Kilner, R.M. (2018) "How" and "Why" behavior evolves: a comment on Bailey et al. Behavioral Ecology 29: 15-16

Schrader, M., Jarrett, B.J.M., Rebar, D. & Kilner, R.M. (2017) Adaptation to a novel family environment involves both apparent and cryptic phenotypic changes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20171295

Jarrett, B.J.M., Schrader, M., Rebar, D., Houslay, T.M. & Kilner, R.M. (2017) Cooperative interactions within the family enhance the capacity for evolutionary change in body size. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 0178

Schrader, M., Crosby, R.M., Hesketh, A.R., Jarrett, B.J.M. & Kilner, R.M. (2016) A limit to the extent to which increased egg size can compensate for a poor post-natal environment, revealed experimentally in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides. Ecology & Evolution 6: 329-336

Kilner, R.M., Boncoraglio, G., Henshaw, J., Jarrett, B.J.M., De Gasperin, O., Attisano, A. & Kokko, H. (2015) Parental effects alter the adaptive value of an adult behavioural trait. eLife 10.7554

Schrader, M., Jarrett, B.J.M. & Kilner, R.M. (2015) Using experimental evolution to study adaptations for life within the family. The American Naturalist 185: 610-619

Schrader, M., Jarrett, B.J.M. & Kilner, R.M. (2015) Parental care masks a density-dependent shift from cooperation to competition among burying beetle larvae. Evolution 69: 1077-1084

Other Publications

Schreven, S.J.J., Perlett, E., Jarrett, B.J.M., Harsanto, F.A., Purwanto, A., Azis, A., Marchant, N.C. & Harrison, M.E. (2014) A Guide to the Ants of Sabangau. The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, Palangka Raya, Indonesia 

Baldock, K.C.R. & Jarrett, B.J.M. (2013) Urban pollinators: their ecology and conservation. Antenna 37: 34–37

Jarrett, B.J.M. (2011) Sleeping beauty: a tale of the periodical cicadas. Antenna 35: 122–123