Understanding adaptations and the selective pressures that yield them
Behavioural ecology in its broadest sense is the study of adaptations, and the selective pressures that yield them, in different ecological environments. Some adaptations are behavioural and sometimes behaviour drives the evolution of new adaptations by creating new selective environments. Work in the Department focuses particularly on behaviours and other adaptations that arise as a consequence of interacting with others. There is a strong interest in social evolution, and the selective conditions that yield cooperation rather than conflict. We also study co-evolutionary interactions between species and the relentless dynamics of evolutionary change that result. Finally, we are interested in how behaviour itself can be a driver of evolutionary change through direct selection on others, and through indirect modification of the environment in which other conspecifics or species live. Our research involves fieldwork in Africa, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand and at fenland sites close to Cambridge, as well as work in the lab. Some of our work builds new evolutionary theory, some tests theory experimentally.