The University of Western Australia

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Renee Firman

Dr Renee Firman

Australian Postdoctoral Fellow
Evolutionary Biology, Centre for

Contact details
Centre for Evolutionary Biology
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2699
+61 8 6488 1029

Australian Postdoctoral Fellow
Animal Biology, School of

Contact details
School of Animal Biology
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2699
+61 8 6488 1029
BSc PhD W.Aust.
I have examined the evolutionary consequences of sperm competition for male and female reproductive physiology in house mice (Mus domesticus), at the whole organism and gametic levels. I have combined field based population approaches with experimental evolution in the laboratory, and used novel in vitro fertilisation (IVF) technologies to explore the hypothesis that sperm competition generates sexual conflict over fertilisation. Currently, I am interested in determining whether males and/or females use paternity biasing mechanisms to increase the production of male or female offspring under specific conditions. I also tend to explore the phenomenon of sexual conflict (misalignment of mother/sire interests) over sex allocation among offspring. My most recent investigations have extended to the native sandy inland mouse (Pseudomys hermannsburgensis). I intend to further develop my studies of native species in the future.
Key research
The evolutionary implications of sperm competition in mammals
1. Firman, RC, Gomendio, M, Roldan E and Simmons LW. 2014. The coevolution of ova defensiveness with sperm competitiveness. The American Naturalist, 183: 565-572.

2. Firman, RC. 2014. Female fitness, sperm traits and patterns of paternity in an Australian polyandrous mouse. Behavioural Ecology & Sociobiology, 68: 283-290.

3. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2014. Sperm competition risk generates phenotypic plasticity in ovum fertilizability. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 280: 20132097.

4. Simmons, LW and Firman, RC. 2014. Experimental evidence for the evolution of the mammalian baculum by sexual selection. Evolution, 68: 276-283.

5. Firman, RC, Klemme, I and Simmons, LW. 2013. Strategic adjustments in sperm production within and between two island populations of house mice. Evolution, 67: 3061-3070.

6. Firman, RC, Bentley, B, Bowman, F, García-Solís Marchant, F, Parthenay, J, Sawyer, J, Stewart, T and O’Shea, JE. 2013. No evidence of sperm conjugate formation in an Australian mouse bearing sperm with three hooks. Ecology & Evolution, 3: 1856-1863.

7. Colley, SM, Wintle, L, Searles, R, Russell, V, Firman, RC, Smith, S, DeBoer, K, Merriner, DJ, Genevieve, B, Bentel, JM, Stuckey, BGA, Phillips, MR, Simmons, LW, de Krester, DM, O’Bryan, MK and Leedman, PJ. 2013. Loss of the nuclear receptor corepressor SLIRP compromises male fertility. PLoS One, 8: e70700.

8. Klemme, I and Firman, RC. 2013. Male house mice that have evolved with sperm competition have increased mating duration and paternity success. Animal Behaviour, 85: 751-758.

9. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2012. Male house mice evolving with post-copulatory sexual selection sire embryos with increased viability. Ecology Letters 15: 42-46.

10. Firman, RC. 2011. Polyandrous females benefit by producing sons that achieve high reproductive success in a competitive environment. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 278: 2823-2831.

11. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2011. Experimental evolution of sperm competitiveness in a mammal. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 19.

12. Firman, RC, Cheam LY and Simmons, LW. 2011. Sperm competition does not influence sperm hook morphology in selection lines of house mice. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 856-862.

13. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2010. Experimental evolution of sperm quality via postcopulatory sexual selection in house mice. Evolution 64: 1245-1256.

14. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2010. Sperm midpiece length predicts sperm swimming velocity in house mice. Biology Letters 6: 513-516.

15. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2009. Sperm competition and the evolution of the sperm hook in house mice. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22: 2505-2511.

16. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2008. The frequency of multiple paternity predicts variation in testis size among island populations of house mice. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21: 1524-1533.

17. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2008. Polyandry facilitates postcopulatory inbreeding avoidance in house mice. Evolution 62: 603-611.

18. Firman, RC and Simmons, LW. 2008. Polyandry, sperm competition and reproductive success in mice. Behavioural Ecology 19: 695-702.

19. Simmons, LW, Firman, RC, Rhodes, G and Peters, M. 2004. Human sperm competition: testis size, sperm competition, sperm production, and rates of extra-pair copulations. Animal Behaviour 68: 297-302.

20. Firman, RC, Simmons, LW, Cummins, JM and Matson, PL. 2003. Are body fluctuating asymmetry and the ratio of 2nd to 4th digit length reliable predictors of semen quality? Human Reproduction 18: 808-812.
Funding received
2014-2016: Australian Research Council (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award; Fellowship/project funding; $393 000)

2014: UWA Research Collaboration Award ($17 000)

2010-2012: Australian Research Council (Postdoctoral Fellowship and Discovery Project; $390 000)

2009/2011: UWA Research Development Award ($30 000)

2010/2013: Fortescue Metals Group Pty. Ltd. Research Contribution ($50 000)

2010: Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Research Grant (£5 000)
Honours and awards
2013 University of Western Australia's Outstanding Young Investigator

2013 University of Western Australia’s Early Career Researcher Best Publication

2011 University of Western Australia’s Early Career Researcher Best Publication

2008 School of Animal Biology's (UWA) Best Student Publication
Previous positions
2013 UWA Postdoctoral Researcher
2010-2012 Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (UWA)
2009 Centre for Evolutionary Biology (UWA) Postdoctoral Researcher
2011-2013 Experimental Biology 4404 (Supervisor for research component)
Current external positions
Adjunct Academic: Donaña Biological Station, Sevilla, Spain
Current projects
1. Sperm competition and adaptive sex allocation (collaborator: Dr Paco Garcia-Gonzalez, Donaña Biological Station, Sevilla, Spain)

2. In vitro sperm competition and sperm selection in house mice (collaborator: Prof Leigh Simmons, University of Western Australia)

3. Polyandry and a selfish genetic element in house mice (collaborator: Dr Anna Lindholm, University of Zurich, Switzerland)

4. Mating systems and ovulation mode among mammals (collaborator: Dr Ines Klemme, University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

5. Mating systems and gene expression in house mice (collaborator: A/Prof Matt Dean, University of Southern California, USA)
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM