The evolution of sensitive periods in development: insights from insects

Sinead English*, Antoine M G Barreaux

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


Recent models have identified evolutionary explanations for sensitive periods, when individuals are more responsive to experiences at certain stages of development, based on benefits and costs of attending to environmental cues. Empirical tests of these models face challenges, requiring complex, long-term experiments, and detailed understanding of physiology and ecology. Insect systems offer the opportunity to overcome these challenges, given their tractability, diversity and well-studied mechanisms. These studies shed light not only on fundamental biology, but have societal implications given the roles insects play in pollinating or decimating food crops and in spreading parasites. Understanding the role of sensitive periods can help to protect beneficial insect populations while controlling pests and vectors of disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71–78
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Early online date19 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Sept 2020


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