Research interests

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the evolution of life-histories and in particular, how they are shaped by sexual selection and constrained by nutrition. A major focus of my current work is understanding how nutrition affects fitness traits (and trade-offs between them) in bumble bees.






Scientific projects

Aging - rising mortality, declining function and fertility over age – remains a puzzling phenomenon to evolutionary biologists. How could a seemingly maladaptive trait evolve? The insight that natural selection weakens over age provided an explanation and suggested that aging is inevitable. However, many species escape aging and among species that do age, patterns of age-dependent mortality are so diverse that some live for days and others for centuries. Even within species, how much and how quickly individuals age differs between populations and demographic groups. We do not understand this diversity. In my research I test how sexual selection and sexual conflict affect aging across the sexes.

Diet affects how long we live, how healthy and fertile we are. In fact, diet affects all aspects of biology. I use the Geometric Framework of nutrition (GF) – a powerful dietary mapping technique – to test how nutrition constrains sex-specific life-histories.  I also use this technique to tackle questions of applied importance and I am a Co-I on an EU Agritech grant that uses the GF to optimise diets for farming edible insects. In my current research, I am trying to use nutrition to improve insect pollinator health. This allows me to apply my fundamental background in nutritional ecology to generate data with positive impacts on food security.


Archer, C.R., Fähnle, J., Pretzner, M., Üstüner, C., Weber, N., Sutter, A., Doublet, V. & Wilfert, L. (2021) Complex relationship between amino acids, fitness and food intake in Bombus terrestris. Amino Acids 53:1545-1558

Malod, K., Roets, P. D., Bosua, H. Archer, C.R. & Weldon, C. (2021) Selecting on age of female reproduction affects lifespan in both sexes and age-dependent reproductive effort in female (but not male) Ceratitis cosyra. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 75:1-16

Marceau, T., Archer, C.R., Bulford, L. & Wilfert, L. 2021. Field realistic antibiotic concentrations may increase susceptibility to the gut parasite Crithidia bombi in the buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 182:107580.

Paniw, M., James, T., Archer, C.R., Römer, G., Levin, S., Compagnoni, S., Che-Castaldo, J., Bennett, J.M., Mooney, A., Childs, D.Z., Ozgul, A., Jones, O.R., Burns, J.H., Beckerman, A.P., Patwary, A., Sanchez-Gassen, N., Knight, T.M., Salguero-Gomez, R. The myriad of complex demographic responses of terrestrial mammals to climate change and gaps of knowledge: A global analysis Journal of Animal Ecology. 90:1398-1407.

Compagnoni, A., Levin, S., Childs, D.Z., Harpole, S., Paniw, M., Römer, G., Burns. J.H., Che-Castaldo, J., Rüger, N., Kunstler, G., Bennett, J.M., Archer, C.R., Jones, O.R., Salguero-Gomez, R & Knight, T. (2021) Short-lived plants have stronger demographic responses to climate. Nature Communications 12:1824.

Archer, C.R., Store, S., Carey, M., Noda, T. & Hosken, D. (2020) Offspring sex-ratios are stable across the life-course in Drosophila simulans. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 33:1606-1613.

Malod, K., Roets, P. D., Oosthuizen, C., Blount, J.D. Archer, C.R. & Weldon, C. (2020) Selection on age of female reproduction in the marula fruit fly, Ceratitis cosyra, decreases total antioxidant protection and lipid peroxidation. Journal of Insect Physiology 125:104084.

Malod, K., Archer, C.R., Karsten, M., Cruywagen, R., Howard, A., Nicolson, S.W.N. and Weldon, C. (2020) Exploring the role of host specialisation and oxidative stress in interspecific lifespan variation in subtropical fruit flies. Scientific Reports 10:1-11.

Archer, C.R. and Hosken, D.J. (2020). Sexual Selection. Chapter 1, in The SAGE Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. Eds. Todd Shackleford.

Tourmente, M. Archer, C.R. and Hosken, D.J. (2019) Complex interactions between sperm viability and female fertility. Scientific Reports 9:1-11.

Matsumura, K., Hosken, D.J., Archer, C.R. and Miyatake, T. (2019) Artificial selection on walking distance suggests a mobility-sperm competitiveness trade-off. Editor’s Choice. Behavioral Ecology 30:1522-1529.

Hosken, D.J., Archer, C.R. and Mank, J. (2019) Sexual conflict. Invited Primer, Current Biology 29:R451-455.

Hosken, D.J., Bretman, A., Goodwin, S and Archer, C.R. (2019) Genes and environment in Drosophila sex. In Genes and Behaviour: Beyond Nature Nurture, Wiley & Sons, Ch 6, 111-129.

Hosken, D.J., Archer, C.R., House, C.M. and Wedell, N. (2019) Penis evolution across species: divergence and diversity. Nature Reviews Urology 16:98-106.

Duffy, E., Archer, C.R., Sharma, M.D., Prus, M., Joag, R.A., Radwan, J., Wedell, N. and Hosken, D.J. (2019) Wolbachia infection can bias estimates of intralocus sexual conflict. Ecology and Evolution 9:328-338.

Archer, C.R., Recker, M., Duffy, E. and Hosken, D.J. (2018) Intralocus sexual conflict can resolve the male-female, health-survival paradox. Nature Communications 9:5048.

Bosua, H. K., Nicolson, S. W., Archer, C.R. and Pirk, C.W.W. (2018) Effects of cage volume and bee density on survival and nutrient intake of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) under laboratory conditions. Apidologie 49:734-746.

Sutter, A., Barton, S., Sharma, M.D., Bassellini, U., Hosken, D. and Archer, C.R. (2018) Senescent declines in elite tennis players are similar across the sexes. Behavioral Ecology 29:1357-1358.

Roets, P., Archer, C.R., Bosua, H. and Weldon C. (2018) Life history and demographic traits of the marula fruit fly, Ceratitis cosyra (Walker) (Diptera: Tephritidae): Potential consequences of host specialisation. Physiological Entomology 43:259-267.

Rapkin, J., Jensen, K., Archer, C.R., House, C. M., Sakaluk, S.K., del Castillo, E. and Hunt, J. (2018) The geometry of nutrient space-based life-history trade-offs: sex-specific effects of macronutrient intake on the trade-off between encapsulation ability and reproductive effort in decorated crickets. The American Naturalist 191:452-474.

Archer, C.R, Bassellini, U., Lee, K P, Simpson, S., Hunt, J. and Baudisch, A. (2018) Diet has independent effects on the pace and shape of aging in Drosophila melanogaster. Biogerontology 19:1-12.

Archer, C. R., Orr, T. and Hosken, D. J. (2017) Sperm competition and cryptic female choice in bats. Frontiers in Reproductive Science, Bentham E-Books, Ch 7, 119-147.

Malod, K., Archer, C.R., Hunt, J., Nicolson, S. and Weldon C. (2017) Effects of macronutrient intake on the lifespan and fecundity of the Marula fruit fly, Ceratitis cosyra: extreme lifespan in a host specialist. Ecology and Evolution 7:9808-9817.

Archer, C.R., Stephens, R.M., Sharma, M.D. and Hosken, D.J. (2017) The Drosophila simulans Y chromosome interacts with the autosomes to influence male fitness. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 30:1821-1825.

Rapkin, J., Archer, C.R., Grant, C.E., Jensen, K., House, C.M., Wilson, A. and Hunt, J. (2017) Little evidence for intralocus sexual conflict over the optimal intake of nutrients for lifespan and reproduction in the black field cricket Teleogryllus commodus. Evolution 71:2159-2177.

Archer, C.R. and Hosken, D. J. (2016) Peacock flies. Invited mini-review, Current Biology 26:R1124-R1126.

Bunning, H., Bassett, L., Clowser, C., Rapkin, J., Jensen, K., House, C.M., Archer, C.R. and Hunt, J. (2016) Dietary choice for a balanced nutrient intake increases the mean and reduces the variance in the reproductive performance of male and female cockroaches. Ecology and Evolution 6:4711-4730.

Archer, C.R. and Hosken, D. J. (2016) Escaping the inevitability of ageing. Invited commentary, Current Biology 26:R202-R204.

Salguero-Gómez, R., Jones, O.R., Archer, C.R. et al. (2016) COMADRE: a global database of animal demography. Journal of Animal Ecology 85:371-384.

Archer, C.R., Hempenstall, S., Royle, N., Selman, C., Willis, S., Rapkin, J., Blount, J. and Hunt, J. (2015) Testing the effects of DL-Alpha-Tocopherol supplementation on oxidative damage, total antioxidant protection and the sex-specific responses of reproductive effort and lifespan to dietary manipulation in Australian field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus). Antioxidants 4:768-792.

Archer, C.R. and Hunt, J. (2015) Understanding the link between sexual selection, sexual conflict and aging using crickets as a model. Experimental Gerontology 71:4-13.

Okada, K., Archer, C.R., Katsuki, M., Suzaki, Y., Sharma, M.D., House, C. and Hosken, D.J. (2015) Polyandry and fitness in female horned flour beetles (Gnatocerus cornutus). Animal Behaviour 106:11-16.

Archer, C.R., Duffy, E., Hosken, D.J., Mokkonen, M., Okada, K., Oku, K., Sharma, M.D. and Hunt, J. (2015) Sex specific effects of natural and sexual selection on the evolution of lifespan and aging in Drosophila simulans. Functional Ecology 29:562–569.

Bunning, H., Rapkin, J., Archer, C.R., Jensen, K. and Hunt, J. (2015) Protein and carbohydrate intake influence sperm number and fertility in male cockroaches but not sperm viability. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282:20142144.

Salguero-Gómez, R., Jones, O.R., Archer, C.R., et al. (2015) The COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database: an open online repository for plant demography. Journal of Ecology 103:202–218.

Archer, C.R., Köhler, A. K., Pirk C.W.W., Oosthuizen, V., Apostolides, Z. and Nicolson, S.W. (2014) Antioxidant supplementation can reduce the survival costs of excess amino acid intake in honeybees. Journal of Insect Physiology 71:78–86.

Human, H., Archer, C.R., du Rand, E.E., Pirk C.W.W. and Nicolson, S.W. (2014) Resistance of developing honeybee larvae during chronic exposure to dietary nicotine. Journal of Insect Physiology 69:74-79.

Archer, C.R., Pirk, C.W.W., Wright, G.A. and Nicolson, S.W. (2014) Nutrition affects survival in African honeybees exposed to interacting stressors. Functional Ecology 28:913-923. Citations – 55.

Archer, C.R., Carvalheiro, L., Pirk, C.W.W. and Nicolson, S.W. (2014) Economic and ecological implications of geographic bias in the light of pollinator declines. Oikos 123:401-407.

Archer, C.R., Sakaluk, S., Selman, C., Royle N. and Hunt, J. (2013) Oxidative stress and the evolution of sex differences in lifespan and ageing in the decorated cricket Gryllodes sigillatus. Evolution 67:620-634.

Archer, C.R., Zajitschek, F., Sakaluk, S., Royle, N. and Hunt. J. (2012) Sexual selection affects the evolution of lifespan and ageing in the decorated cricket Gryllodes sigillatus. Evolution 66:3088-3100.

Archer, C.R., South, S., Selman, C., Royle N. and Hunt, J. (2009) Nutritional geometry provides food for thought. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 64:956-959.


    Dr. Ruth C. Archer
    Institute of Evolutionary Ecology
    and Conservation Genomics
    University of Ulm
    Albert-Einstein-Allee 11
    89081 Ulm
    Email: catherine.archer()