Flavia Barbosa

Flavia Barbosa

Associate Professor of Biology



Behavioral Ecology, Evolution, Sexual Selection, Mate Choice, Animal Communication

Research Interests

For details, visit my website: The Barbosa Lab

I am a behavioral ecologist interested primarily in sexual selection. I study mating behavior employing insects as model species, both in the field and the laboratory. My current research is on katydids and moths, but I have also worked with flies, beetles and treehoppers.

I am fascinated by the degrees of elaboration and variation in animal mating traits, including courtship displays, mating songs, elaborate genitalia and nuptial gifts (items offered to a mate during courtship or copulation). In most species, males compete for mates, while females have mate preferences, choosing their mates based on certain male traits. Female preferences can therefore exert strong selective pressure on males, playing a major role in the elaboration and diversification of mating traits, and potentially generating population divergence and speciation. My research focuses on the evolution of traits used to attract mates, the costs and benefits of reproductive investments, and the mechanisms and functions of mating preferences.


PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, 2011

BS, Biology and Zoology, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – Brazil, 2005

Honors and Awards

2021-2023        Gustav E. Beerly, Jr., Endowed Assistant Professorship

2021                   William L. Dunn Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarly Promise, Lake Forest College


2021-2025       National Science Foundation RUI IOS-2113134 - An integrative study of covariances between behavioral and morphological life-history traits

2012-2016        National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology

Courses Taught

BIOL 482 – Sex and Evolution
BIOL 389 – Evolution
BIOL 344 – Animal Behavior
BIOL 220 – Ecology and Evolution
BIOL 136 – Sensing the Environment


Gascoigne, SLJ, Uwera Nalukwago, DI, Barbosa, F. (2021). Competition, sex and allocation hierarchy affect morphological and behavioural life-history trait covariances in a bean beetle. The American Naturalist (accepted).

Sears MJ, Barbosa F, Hamel JA (2020). Prolonged and variable copulation durations in a promiscuous insect species: No evidence of reproductive benefits for females. Behavioural Processes 179: 104189.

Bacon E and Barbosa F (2020). Male harassment leads to fitness costs for females by disrupting oviposition site preferences. Behavioral Ecology 31(3): 611–617

Edomwande C and Barbosa F (2020). The influence of predation risk on mate signaling and mate choice in the lesser waxmoth Achroia grisella. Scientific Reports 10(1): 1–8.

Rebar D, Barbosa F, Greenfield M (2019). Female reproductive plasticity to the social environment and its impact on male reproductive success. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology DOI:10.1007/s00265-019-2661-4.

Barbosa F, Rebar D, Greenfield M (2017). When do trade‐offs occur? The roles of energy constraints and trait flexibility in bushcricket populations. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 31.2 (2018): 287–301.

Barbosa F, Rebar D, Greenfield M (2016) Female preference functions drive inter-population divergence in male signaling: call diversity in a bushcricket. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29(11): 2219–2228.

Rebar D, Barbosa F, Greenfield M (2016) Acoustic experience influences male and female pre- and postcopulatory behaviors in a bushcricket. Behavioral Ecology 27(2): 434–443

Barbosa F, Rebar D, Greenfield M (2016) Reproduction and immunity trade-offs constrain mating signals and nuptial gift size in a bushcricket. Behavioral Ecology 27(1): 109–117.

Barbosa F (2014) An integrative view of postcopulatory sexual selection in a soldier fly: interplay between cryptic mate choice and sperm competition. In AV Peretti, A Aisenberg (Eds.) Cryptic Female Choice in Arthropods - Patterns, Mechanisms and Prospects. Springer International Publishing AG.

Rodriguez RL, Barbosa F (2013) Mutual behavioral adjustments in vibrational duetting. In RB Cocroft, M Gogala, A Wessel (Eds.) Vibrational Communication in Arthropods. Springer International Publishing AG.

Barbosa F (2012) Males responding to sperm competition cues have higher fertilization success in a soldier fly. Behavioral Ecology 23(4): 815-819.

Barbosa F (2011) Copulation duration in the soldier fly Merosargus cingulatus: the roles of cryptic male choice and sperm competition risk. Behavioral Ecology 22(6):1332-1336.

Barbosa F (2009). Cryptic female choice by female control of oviposition timing in a soldier fly. Behavioral Ecology 20(5): 957-960.