Daniela Wilner
PhD Candidate & PGC Member
Field of Research: 
Evolutionary ecology; Animal behaviour; Sexual selection; Sexual conflict; Evolution of sex
Contact details:

Desk 5.13, Level 5 West
Biological Sciences South (E26)
UNSW, Kensington 2052


My PhD research centers around the paradox of sex: Sexual reproduction is costly, so why are obligately sexual animals so common, and facultatively asexual animals so rare? I am specifically interested in the roles of sexual conflict and of endosymbionts in the maintenance of sexual and asexual populations. I am investigating these questions by combining lab and field experiments, using a facultatively parthenogenetic stick insect (Megacrania batesii).

My master’s research focused on the effects of seasonal environments and nutrition on reproduction and sexual selection in leaf-footed cactus bugs (Narnia femorata).



Woodman, TE, S Chen,  Z Emberts, D Wilner, W Federle, CW Miller (2021) Developmental nutrition affects the structural integrity of a sexually selected weapon. Integrative   and Comparative Biology. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icab130


Wilner, D, EV Greenway, LA Cirino, CW Miller (2020) Long-term reproductive success is predicted by sexual behavior and impaired by temporary nutritional stress during sexual maturation. Behavioural Processes. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2020.104122


Greenway, EV, LA Cirino, D Wilner, U Somjee, M Anagnostou, RT Hepple, CW Miller (2019) Extreme variation in testes size in an insect is linked to recent mating activity. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13574



Ph.D. Biological Science, Oct 2020 - present                                            

University of New South Wales

Supervisor: Dr. Russell Bonduriansky


M.S. Entomology, Aug 2017 - Dec 2019                                                   

University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Supervisor: Dr. Christine W. Miller

Thesis: “Effects of nutritional stress during early adulthood on sexual behavior and long-term reproductive output in the leaf-footed cactus bug, Narnia femorata Stål (Hemiptera: Coreidae)”


B.A. Foreign Languages, Jan 2009 - May 2015                                                               

Magna Cum Laude, University Honors Scholar

University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA


B.S. Biological Sciences, Jan 2009 - Dec 2014

Magna Cum Laude                                                     

University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA

Honours Thesis: “High-Altitude Adaptation in White-capped Dippers (Cinclus leucocephalus)”
Research Mentor: Dr. Kevin G. McCracken


Attestation d’Études Politiques (Exchange program), Jan 2014 - May 2014           

Institute d’Études Politiques de Rennes, France



Current: BIOS3171 (Evolution) Demonstrator and Nura Gili Tutor



Co-instructor, University of Florida

Insect Research and Scientific Engagement, Spring 2019


Teaching assistant, University of Florida

Principles of Entomology, Fall 2019

Insect Research and Scientific Engagement, Fall 2018

Insect Research and Scientific Engagement, Spring 2018

Principles of Entomology, Fall 2017


Teaching assistant, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Principles of Genetics Lab, Spring 2015


Instructor (Adjunct), University of Alaska Fairbanks

Elementary French I, Fall 2014


Volunteer Teaching assistant, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Elementary Spanish I, Fall 2013


Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Introductory science classes (Biology; Physics; Chemistry), Spring 2011- Fall 2013


International Fieldwork & Other Research Activities

Field Research Assistant

University of Florida, Spring 2018                                              

Insect behaviour observations and specimen collection in South Africa & Eswatini


Wood Turtle Ecology Intern

Virginia Working Landscapes, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Fall 2016

Database management, spatial ecology fieldwork and biodiversity surveys, and extension in the Blue Mountains, Virginia, USA


Volunteer Field Technician

Kluane Red Squirrel Project, University of Alberta, Summer 2016

Monitoring of wild red squirrel population for long-term ecology and evolution studies in the Yukon Territories, Canada


Undergraduate Research

McCracken Lab, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Expedition team co-leader (URSA), Summer 2013

Undergraduate researcher (URSA), Summer 2012

Undergraduate research assistant (NSF REU), Summer 2011

Sampling bird populations in the Peruvian Highlands for high-altitude adaptation research (assisting on Torrent Duck research project and collecting data for my undergraduate thesis on White-Capped Dippers)


Grants and Awards

2020                UNSW TFS PhD Scholarship

2019                ABS (Animal Behavior Society) Diversity Travel Award                                 

2019                UF Graduate Student Council Travel Grant                                       

2013                UAF Outstanding Undergraduate of the year in Biological Sciences Award

2013                UAF URSA Student Travel Award                                                                   

2013                UAF URSA Summer Undergraduate Research Award                                   

2012                UAF URSA Summer Undergraduate Research Award                                   

2011                NSF (National Science Foundation) REU Fellowship  


Find me online at:


Google Scholar:https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=aeBF4_4AAAAJ&hl=en

Twitter: @DanielaWilner