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September 26, 2016

Insect battles provide clues to evolution

There's much to learn from animal warfare, even when the animals are barely visible

The seemingly peaceful atmosphere in an organic garden on the University of Florida campus belies the battles happening among many of its tiniest inhabitants -- the insects. For entomologist Christine Miller, there are endless opportunities here to study how insects compete and even fight for a mate.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Miller and her team are researching mate selection and animal weapons as a key to better understanding animal behavior, diversity and evolution. Understanding evolution is essential for figuring out solutions to modern problems such as antibiotic resistance, a major problem in medicine, and for understanding how life on the planet became so diverse and how it may change in the future.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1553100, Fighting Behavior, Performance and the Evolution of Shape, funded by the Faculty Early Career Development program, also known as CAREER.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.