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Professor Rebecca Kilner

Professor Rebecca Kilner

Professor of Evolutionary Biology

Rebecca Kilner is interested in taking PhD students.

Room F20
Office Phone: 01223 (3)31766

Biography:

I've spent my academic career based at the Zoology Department in Cambridge, though during that time I've held visiting fellowships at the Australian National University and Cornell University, when I travelled there for fieldwork. After finishing my PhD, I held a JRF at Magdalene College, Cambridge and then was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship followed by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. In 2004, I was appointed proleptically to a University Lectureship, which I took up in 2007. I was promoted to Reader in 2009 and to Professor in 2013. In 2008 and 2010 I was on maternity leave.

Research Themes

Behavioural Ecology:
All Principal Investigators:

Behaviour; Ecology; Evolution

Research Group

Behavioural Ecology Group:
Professor of Evolutionary Biology

Research Interests

Our research uses animal family life as a model system for analysing social evolution, co-evolution and the developmental origins of adaptations. Our current works investigates two broad themes: the ecology of family life, and the role of parental care in driving evolutionary change. We work in the lab and the field on burying beetles and birds.

Our main collaborators are Dr Naomi Langmore (Australian National University), Dr Sheena Cotter (Queen's University, Belfast), Professor Hugh Drummond (UNAM, Mexico), Dr John Ewen (ZSL), Dr Cassie Stoddard (Harvard), and Dr Martin Welch (Dept of Biochemistry, Cambridge).

Key Publications

 

Stoddard, M. C., Kilner, R. M., & Town, C. 2014 Pattern recognition algorithm reveals how birds evolve individual egg pattern signatures. Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms5117

Feeney, W. E., Medina, I., Somveille, M., Heinsohn, R., Hall, M. L., Mulder, R. A., Stein. J. A., Kilner, R.M. & Langmore, N. E. (2013) Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. Science 342: 1506-1508

Cotter, S. C., Topham, E., Price, A. J. P. & Kilner, R. M. (2010) Fitness costs associated with mounting a social immune response. Ecology Letters 13: 1114-1123

Hinde, C. A., Johnstone, R. A & Kilner, R. M. (2010) Parent-offspring conflict and coadaptation. Science 327: 1373-1376

Russell, A. F., Langmore, N. E., Cockburn, A., Astheimer, L. B. & Kilner, R. M. (2007) Reduced egg investment can conceal helper effects in cooperatively breeding birds. Science 317:941-944

Kilner, R. M., Madden, J. R., Hauber, M. E. (2004) Brood parasitic cowbirds use host young to procure food. Science 305:877-879

Langmore, N. E., Hunt, S. & Kilner, R. M. (2003) Escalation of a co-evolutionary arms race through host rejection of brood parasitic young Nature 422:157-160

Kilner, R. M. (2001) A growth cost of begging in captive canary chicks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98:11394-11383

Kilner, R. M., Noble, D. G. & Davies, N. B. (1999) Signals of need in parent-offspring communication and their exploitation by the cuckoo. Nature 397:667-672

Other Publications


2014

 

62. Stoddard, M. C., Kilner, R. M., & Town, C. 2014 Pattern recognition algorithm reveals how birds evolve individual egg pattern signatures. Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms5117

 

61. Walker, L. K., Ewen, J. G. & Kilner, R. M. 2014 Sexually selected dichromatism in the hihi Notiomystis cincta: multiple colours for multiple receivers. Journal of Evolutionary Biology doi 10.5061/dryad.58q4d

 

60. Walker, L. K., Thorogood, R., Raubenheimer, D., Kilner, R. M. & Ewen J. G. 2014 Foraging for carotenoids: do colorful male hihi target carotenoid-rich foods in the wild? Behavioral Ecology doi 10.1093/beheco/aru076


2013


59. Walker, L. K., Armstrong, D. P., Brekke, P., Chauvenet, A. L. M., Kilner, R. M. & Ewen, J. G. (2013) Giving hihi a helping hand: identifying appropriate rearing diet in food supplemented populations of an endangered bird. Animal Conservation 16:538-545

 

58. Feeney, W. E., Medina, I., Somveille, M., Heinsohn, R., Hall, M. L., Mulder, R. A., Stein. J. A., Kilner, R.M. & Langmore, N. E. (2013) Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. Science 342: 1506-1508

 

57. Stoddard, M. C. & Kilner, R. M. (2013) The past, present and future of Cuckoos versus Reed Warblers. Animal Behaviour 85: 693-699

 

56. Walker, L. K., Stevens, M., Karadas, F., Kilner, R. M. & Ewen, J. G. 2013 A window on the past: male ornamental plumage reveals the quality of their early life environment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280:20122852

 

55. Cotter, S. C., Littlefair, J. E., Grantham, P. J. & Kilner, R. M. (2013) A direct physiological trade-off between personal and social immunity. Journal of Animal Ecology 82: 846-853

 

2012

 

54. Stoddard, M. C., Fayet, A. L., Kilner, R. M. & Hinde, C. A. (2012) Egg speckling patterns do not advertise offspring quality or influence male provisioning. PLoS One 7:e40211

 

53. Boncoraglio, G. & Kilner, R. M. (2012) Female burying beetles benefit from male desertion: sexual conflict and counter-adaptation over parental investment. PLoS One 7:e31713

 

 

2011

 

52. Stoddard, M. C., Marshall, K. & Kilner, R. M. (2011) Imperfectly camouflaged avian eggs: artefact or adaptation? Avian Biology Research 4:196-213 (invited review for themed edition)

 

51. Johnstone, R. A. & Kilner, R. M. (2011) New labels for old whines Behavioral Ecology 22:918-919

 

50. Kilner, R. M. & Langmore, N. E. (2011) Cuckoos versus hosts in insects and birds: adaptations, counter-adaptations and outcomes. Biological Reviews 86:836-852

 

49. Thorogood, R., Ewen, J. G. & Kilner, R. M. (2011) Sense and sensitivity: responsiveness to offspring signals varies with the parents' potential to breed again Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278:2628-2645

 

48. Langmore, N. E., Stevens, M., Maurer, G., Heinsohn, R., Hall. M. L., Peters, A. & Kilner, R. M. (2011) Visual mimicry of host nestlings by cuckoos. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278:2455-2463

 

47. Cotter, S. C., Ward, R. S. J. & Kilner, R. M. (2011) Age-specific reproductive investment in female burying beetles: independent effects of state and risk of death. Functional Ecology 25:652-660

2010

 

46. Cotter, S. C., Topham, E., Price, A. J. P. & Kilner, R. M. (2010) Fitness costs associated with mounting a social immune response. Ecology Letters 13: 1114-1123

 

45. Cotter, S. C. & Kilner, R. M. (2010) Personal immunity versus social immunity. Behavioral Ecology 21: 663-668

 

44. Hoffman, J. I., Munro, K., Kilner, R. M. & Amos, W. (2010) High rates of infidelity in the Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa suggest that testis size may be a better correlate of extra-pair paternity than sexual dimorphism. Ibis 152:378-385

 

43. Hinde, C. A., Johnstone, R. A & Kilner, R. M. (2010) Parent-offspring conflict and coadaptation. Science 327: 1373-1376

 

42. Langmore, N. E. & Kilner, R. M. (2010) The coevolutionary arms race between Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos and superb fairy-wrens Emu 110: 32-38 (invited review for Anniversary Edition)

41. Kilner, R.  (2010) Learn to beat an identity cheat. Nature 463:165-167

 

40. Cotter, S. C. & Kilner, R. M. (2010) Sexual division of antibacterial resource defence in breeding burying beetles, Nicrophorus vespilloides. Journal of Animal Ecology 79:35-43

 

2009

 

39. Ward, R. S. J., Cotter, S. C. & Kilner, R. M. (2009) Residual reproductive value predicts brood desertion in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. Behavioral Ecology 20:1274-1281

 

38. Langmore, N. E., Stevens, M., Maurer, G. & Kilner, R. M. (2009) Are dark cuckoo eggs cryptic in host nests? Animal Behaviour 78:461-468  

 

37. Langmore, N. E., Cockburn, A., Russell, A. F. & Kilner, R. M. (2009) Flexible cuckoo chick rejection rules in the superb fairy-wren. Behavioral Ecology 20:978-984

 

36. Hinde C.A., Buchanan, K. L. & Kilner, R. M. (2009) Prenatal environmental effects match offspring begging to parental provisioning. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B 276:2787-2794

 

35. Langmore, N. E. & Kilner, R. M. (2009) Why do Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo Chalcites basalis eggs mimic those of their hosts? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63:1127-1131

 

2008

 

34. Thorogood, R., Kilner, R. M., F. Karadaş, F. & Ewen, J. G. (2008) Spectral mouth colour of nestlings changes with carotenoid availability Functional Ecology 22: 1044-1051

 

33. Kilner, R.M & Hinde, C. A. (2008) Information warfare and parent-offspring conflict. Advances in the Study of Behavior 38: 283-336

 

32. Langmore, N. E., Maurer, G., Adcock, A. J. & Kilner R. M. (2008) Socially acquired host-specific mimicry and the evolution of host races in Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo Chalcites basalis Evolution 62: 1689-1699

 

31. Broom, M., Ruxton, G. D., & Kilner R. M. (2008) Host life history strategies and the evolution of chick-killing by brood parasitic offspring. Behavioral Ecology 19:22-34

 

30. Russell, A. F., Langmore, N. E., Gardner, J.A. & Kilner, R. M. (2008) Maternal investment tactics in superb fairy-wrens. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B 275:29-36

 

2007

 

29. Buchanan, K. L., Goldsmith, A. R., Hinde, C. A., Griffith, S. C., & Kilner, R. M. (2007) Does testosterone mediate the trade-off between nestling begging and growth in the canary (Serinus canaria)? Hormones and Behavior 52:664-671

 

28. Langmore, N. E. & Kilner, R. M. (2007). Breeding site and host selection by Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos Chalcites basalis Animal Behaviour 74:995-1004

 

27. Langmore, N. E, Adcock, G. J. & Kilner, R. M. (2007) The spatial organization and mating system of Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos Chalcites basalis. Animal Behaviour74:403-412

 

26. Adcock, G. J., Langmore, N. E. & Kilner, R. M. (2007) Polymorphic microsatellite loci for studies of bronze cuckoo species (Genus Chalcites: Aves). Molecular Ecology Notes 7:678-680

 

25. Russell, A. F., Langmore, N. E., Cockburn, A., Astheimer, L. B. & Kilner, R. M. (2007) Reduced egg investment can conceal helper effects in cooperatively breeding birds. Science 317:941-944

 

24. Hauber, M. E. & Kilner, R. M. (2007) Co-evolution, communication and host chick mimicry in parasitic finches: who mimics whom? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 61:497-504

 

23. Hinde, C. A. & Kilner, R. M. (2007) Negotiations within the family over the supply of parental care. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B 274: 53-61.

 

2006

 

22. Kilner, R. M. (2006) The evolution of egg colour and patterning in birds. Biological Reviews 81: 383-406.

2005

           

21. Madden, J. R., Kilner, R. M., & Davies, N. B. (2005) Nestling responses to adult food and alarm calls I Species specific responses in two cowbird hosts Animal Behaviour70: 619-627.                  

20. Madden, J. R., Kilner, R. M., & Davies, N. B. (2005) Nestling responses to adult food and alarm calls II: Cowbirds and red-winged blackbirds raised by Eastern phoebe hosts Animal Behaviour70:629-637.          

    

19. Adcock, G. J., Langmore, N. E., Mulder, R. A. & Kilner, R. M. (2005) Microsatellite loci for population and behavioural studies of Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo (Chalcites basalis: Aves). Molecular Ecology Notes 5:619-621.     

 

18. Langmore, N. E.,  Kilner, R. M., Butchart, S. H. M., Maurer, G., Davies, N. B., Cockburn A., Macgregor N.A., Peters A., Magrath M. J. L., Dowling, D. K. (2005) The evolution of egg rejection by cuckoo hosts in Australia and Europe. Behavioral Ecology 16:686-692.

 

2004

                           

17. Kilner, R. M., Madden, J. R., Hauber, M. E. (2004) Brood parasitic cowbirds use host young to procure food. Science305:877-879        

2003

 

16. Hunt, S., Kilner, R. M, Langmore, N. E., & Bennett, A.T.D (2003) Conspicuous, ultraviolet-rich mouth colours in begging chicks. Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B 270:S25-S28        

 

15. Langmore, N. E., Hunt, S. & Kilner, R. M. (2003) Escalation of a co-evolutionary arms race through host rejection of brood parasitic young Nature 422:157-160      

 

14. Kilner, R. M. (2003) How selfish is a cowbird nestling? Animal Behaviour66:569-576

 

13. Butchart, S. H. M, Kilner, R. M., Fuisz, T & Davies, N. B. (2003) Differences in the nestling begging calls of hosts and host-races of the common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus. Animal Behaviour 65: 345-354  

2002

    

12. Kilner, R. M. (2002) Sex differences in canary (Serinus canaria) provisioning rules. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 52: 400-407

2001

           

11. Kilner, R. M. (2001) A growth cost of begging in captive canary chicks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98:11394-11383       

 

1999

    

10. Kilner, R. M. & Davies, N. B. (1999) How selfish is a cuckoo chick? Animal Behaviour 58:797-808                 

9. Kilner, R. M. (1999) Family conflicts and the evolution of nestling mouth colour. Behaviour 136:779-804                     

8. Kilner, R. M., Noble, D. G. & Davies, N. B. (1999) How should cuckoo chicks signal in different host nests? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14:322          

7. Kilner, R. M., Noble, D. G. & Davies, N. B. (1999) Signals of need in parent-offspring communication and their exploitation by the cuckoo. Nature 397:667-672

 

1998

           

6. Kilner, R. M. & Davies, N. B. (1998) Nestling mouth colour: ecological correlates of a begging signal. Animal Behaviour 56:705-712                

5. Kilner, R. (1998). Primary and secondary sex ratio manipulation by zebra finches. Animal Behaviour 56: 155-164                     

4. Davies, N. B., Kilner, R. M. & Noble, D. G. (1998). Nestling cuckoos, Cuculus canorus, exploit hosts with begging calls that mimic a brood. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 265: 673-678

1997

           

3. Kilner, R. (1997) Mouth colour is a reliable signal of need in begging canary nestlings Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 264: 963-968  

    

2. Kilner, R. & Johnstone, R. A. (1997) Begging the question: are offspring solicitation behaviours signals of need? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12: 11-15    

 

1995

    

1. Kilner, R. (1995) When do canary parents respond to nestling signals of need? Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 260: 343-348            

 

BOOK CHAPTERS

 

Kilner, R. M. & Hinde, C. A. (2012) Parent-Offspring Conflict. In: The Evolution of Parental Care edited by N. Royle, P. T. Smiseth & M. Kölliker. Oxford University Press, Oxford

Spottiswoode, C. N., Kilner, R. M. & Davies, N. B. (2012) An enemy in the nest: adaptations and counter-adaptations in brood parasitic birds and their hosts. In: The Evolution of Parental Care edited by N. Royle, P. T. Smiseth & M. Kölliker. Oxford University Press, Oxford

Kilner, R. M. (2006) Function and Evolution of Color in Young Birds. In Bird Coloration edited by G. Hill & K. McGraw (pp 201 – 232). Harvard University Press: London.                   

Kilner, R.M. (2002) The evolution of complex begging displays. In The Evolution of Nestling Begging: Competition, Cooperation and Communication (J. Wright and M. L. Leonard eds.) Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands         

Kilner, R. M. (2000) Multiple nestling begging signals: reed warbler chicks and cuckoo tricks. In: Adaptive Significance of Signalling and Signal Design in Animal Communication (Y. Espmark ed.). Tapir Press, Trondheim, Norway

 

CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

 

Kilner, R. M. & Drummond H. (2007) Parent-offspring conflict in avian families. Journal of Ornithology 148:S241-S246

Kilner, R. M. (2006) Response to Grim: Further costs of virulence for brood parasitic young. Ornithological Science 5:243-247

Kilner, R. M. (2005) The evolution of virulence in brood parasites. Ornithological Science 4:55-64.