Final Update!!!

I just submitted my final draft to Dr. Bray!  What a great feeling, I am very happy to be finished with this paper!  Reading back through it one last time, I was proud of what I had accomplished.  I am happy that I spent the amount of time that I have researching, writing my draft, and revising it.  I’m excited to see everyone’s work too!  Thanks for making Senior Sem as fun as it could be everyone, I really enjoyed having class with you all!  And just a little picture to keep you going through finals week!


Interesting Blog Post #3: Scent Marking Detailing Health

I figured I better post a third interesting blog post before I post my final update!  This last article was actually a source that was recommended to me by Dr. Bray between my first draft and my final paper.  The study focused on house mice and looked at female attractiveness to males with regard to urinary excretions.  Males displayed increased scent marking when exposed to females which was correlated with increased levels of testosterone.  High levels of testosterone work in favor of the males as females display increased attraction to high levels of testosterone.  However, when males were injected with a non-replicating bacterial infection, even in the presence of increased testosterone females discriminated against males given this infection.  These findings detail the honesty of olfactory signals, which is why I focused on it in my paper.  However, thinking about this from a perspective separate from my paper the thought that scent can detail infection status is sooo cool!  I mean just think about it what if humans could detect a sexual’s partners infection status (STI’s) just by smell, it would certainly save money on getting tested at the doctors… 

Interesting Blog Post #2- The Effect of Smells and Tastes on Human Sexual Activity


So of course I am still behind on these interesting blog posts, and everyone else’s interesting blogs inspired me to step up my game to more interesting things.  I actually found this study early on in my research, but disregarded it because it was not going to be used in my paper because I am focusing solely on animals.  Despite this I think it is pretty interesting and slightly weird to think about.  There are multiple focuses of this article, so I will keep this blog post the abridged version, but I encourage you all to check it out!  So the focus of this article a review of the influences of smell and the accompanying sense, taste, on sexual activity.  It has been postulated that humans exhibit pheromones through the vomeronasal organ and receive these signals by the corresponding receptors, but the presence in pheromones in humans is still a pretty debated topic.  The review then proceeds to discuss vaginal odors in regards to sexual arousal.  I mean let’s face it we have all seen commercials to eliminate that embarrassing female odor…but this review speculates that vaginal odor can be met with two reactions by males: distaste and arousal.  It is addressed the social stigmas associated with vaginal odors and why this arousal is not often claimed, but then the reviewer proceeds to discuss the “soiled panty market” a market that is driven entirely by male arousal by female genital odor pointing out that this male reaction does exist (gross, but nonetheless interesting).  The role of smell in mate selection is discussed slightly referencing and relying on the smelly T-shirt experiment, but then the paper moves in a direction I have not really explored and that it taste.  There are two tables, one recording female responses and the other males responses, to the question if I was in a loving relationship I would let my tongue come into contact with….  The responses are interesting and definitely not what I expected.  So if your curiosity gets the best of you go check it out, the responses are rather shocking!

If the link does not work, using EBSCO if you search Smells and tastes–their putative influence on sexual activity in humans it should pop up!


Weekly Update 11/25-11/29

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  As to be expected I did not get as much work done on my revisions as I had hoped, but I still got a good start.  Spending more time with my paper, I realized I could strengthen my argument that olfactory-based sexual selection evolved as a way to selectively enhance the fitness of offspring by categorizing all of the things that olfactory cues encode into the overarching group of indicators of mate quality.  This seems like such a simple leap, I do not know why I did not recognize it before, but I think it makes my argument more succinct and more clear.  That being said, I still have to revise many of the sections.  I have currently gotten through olfactory cues detailing what mates have to offer in terms of resources and experience, but I have not gotten much chance to modify the other three major sections.  I think the sections ahead of me require more work as I need to rework almost every topic sentence for the remainder of the paper and make each example more clear in how olfaction is the signal driving sexual selection.  In other words, I have a long week ahead of me, but I am looking forward to completing this paper and giving my presentation on Wednesday.  After spending this much time with this topic, it is strange yet exciting to think that it is almost coming to an end.  I hope I can put in the time I need this week because I really want my paper to reflect the work that I have put into it (as I’m sure you guys can relate to!)  Happy last week everyone and best of luck finishing your papers!

Weekly Update 11/18-11/22

After a week of presentations last week, I completely forgot about the weekly update blog that was due, my sincerest apologies.  However, my week was very down in terms of Senior Sem work.  I received my first draft feedback on Monday, but I did not have time to work on revising my draft throughout the week.  However, I plan to spend time working on revising my draft over the break.  I especially need to focus on making my first sentence of all of my paragraphs into topic sentences instead only using the first sentence to transition.  Additionally, I need to more explicitly state how each study uses olfaction specifically instead of relying on the argument being implicit.  Finally, I also need to expand my research in regards to olfaction being a more honest indicator in terms of sexual selection.  I have a lot of work to without doubt, but I am looking forward to completing this project.  Hopefully by the end of the break I will have more progress to report, but in the mean time Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Interesting Post #1: MHC Dissimilarity in the Rose Bitterling


One of my favorite studies that I have come across in my research has to do with the genetic compatibility component of my paper.  Carrie is covering MHC compatibility much more in depth than me, but there is still a section of my paper where I discuss non-human  studies involving MHC compatibility.  Within one particular study, Agbali et. al, observed mate choice within female Rose bitterlings.  Females exhibited mate preferences that were indicative of MHC dissimilarity.  Because mate preference was variable depending on the MHC genes of the female, this study validates the theory that the MHC indicates genetic compatibility and not just good genes (if it was good genes, females should preferentially choose all the same mate.)  However, though this is cool, the most interesting part of the study was the next step in which Agbali et. al conducted in vitro fertilization after mate selection in order to access if MHC dissimilarity has significant effects on offspring fitness.  Their results indicated that there was a significant correlation between male and female genotype on offspring survival, rate of development, growth rate, and body size!  These finding offer concrete evidence to my argument that olfactory cues function in sexual selection in order to selectively enhance the fitness of the offspring based on mate choice.  Which is awesome within the scope of this class, but more broadly speaking, this study is revolutionary in that this is the first study I came across in my research within the field of olfactory-based sexual selection that has made the leap beyond simply observing mate preference to studying the effects of this preference on progeny fitness.  I’m hoping more studies follow suit, because studies such as this help provide more concrete evidence that mate olfactory-derived mate preference selectively enhances offspring fitness instead of theorizing that based on compatible genes this would be the case.  However, the findings of this study because they are based on in-vitro fertilization raise questions in particular, were the results of the fitness of the offspring different because fertilization was not natural?  More broadly, how does in-vitro fertilization change both the reproductive success and offspring survival in comparison to natural fertilization?  Thus, this study can also be connected to Ashley’s chapter on the effects and implications of in-vitro fertilization, which is astounding considering at first glance how the MHC in fish relates to in-vitro fertilization in humans seems far reaching!  Nonetheless, I have included the link below; hopefully you find this as cool as I clearly did!

This isn’t the link where I initially found the article so it does not match my citation, but it is still the same article I promise!



Weekly Update for the Week of 11/11-11/15

I feel bad reporting this, but this week consisted of no work on my senior seminar project!  I am currently awaiting Dr. Bray’s feedback and wanted to wait until I had her feedback before I continued revising my draft!  This next week should be filled with revising for me I hope before Thanksgiving break, but in the mean time, I am just awaiting my commentary.  Hopefully the interesting research blog post that I will be posting later tonight will be more informative and much more detailed than this, but given my week there was really nothing to report.  I’m looking forward to presentations this week, happy week before Thanksgiving everyone (we’re almost there)!