Nick Davies FRS
Tel: +44 (0)
1223 334 405
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 336 676
Email: nbd1000 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Professor of Behavioural Ecology
research is in Behavioural Ecology, the study of behavioural adaptations
in relation to ecological and social conditions. In theory,
natural selection should favour behavioural strategies which best
promote an individual's ability to pass copies of its genes on to
future generations. This creates conflicts in animal populations,
not only conflicts between rivals for territories and mates but
also conflicts within seemingly harmonious ventures such as male-female
pairs cooperating to rear offspring. My work attempts to elucidate
the nature of these conflicts and to understand how they are resolved.
by David Quinn, from
Dunnock Behaviour and Social Evolution
David Quinn, from
Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats (see below)
My current work is concerned with two topics. First, how does
social organisation within a population reflect conflicts within
and between the sexes? Field observations and experiments
with colour-ringed populations of Dunnocks Prunella modularis
(Cambridge Botanic Garden) and Alpine Accentors P. collaris (Pyrenées)
have shown how male-female conflicts give rise to variable mating
systems and variable patterns of parental care. Second, a
study of a breeding conflict between species, namely between the
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus and its hosts, has revealed co-evolution
of adaptations and counteradaptations at both the egg and chick
stage. Current work is aimed at understanding how cuckoo chicks
manipulate their hosts by their begging behaviour, and is being
extended to other species of cuckoos.
I encourage PhD students and post-docs to come up with their own
ideas for research. Recent topics include: deceptive
signalling by drongos; parental care in hornbills; cooperative breeding
in Australian babblers; sexual selection in tooth-billed bowerbirds;
Publications (click here for a complete
books by Nick Davies
- Thorogood, R. & Davies, N.B. 2012. Cuckoos combat socially transmitted defences of reed warbler hosts with a plumage polymorphism. Science, 337, 578- 580.
- Davies, N.B., Krebs, J.R. & West, S.A. 2012. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, Fourth edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
- Davies, N.B.
2011. Cuckoo adaptations: trickery and tuning. J.Zool. 284,
- Davies, N.B.
& Welbergen, J.A. 2009 Social transmission of a host defense
against cuckoo parasitism. Science 324, 1318-1320.
J.A. & Davies, N.B. 2009. Strategic variation in mobbing as
a front line of defense against brood parasitism. Current
Biology 19, 235-240.
- Davies, N.B.,
Madden, J.R., Butchart, S.H.M. & Rutila, J. 2006. A host-race
of the cuckoo Cuculus canorus with nestlings attuned
to the parental alarm calls of the host species. Proceedings
of the Royal Society, B: 273: 693-699.
- Gibbs, H.L.,
Sorenson, M.D., Marchetti, K., Brooke, M. de L., Davies, N.B.
& Nakamura, H. 2000. Genetic evidence for female host-specific
races of the common cuckoo. Nature 407, 183-186
- Davies, N.B.
2000. Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats. pp.310. T.
& A.D. Poyser.
- Kilner, R.M.,
Noble, D.G. & Davies, N.B. 1999. Signals of need in parent-offspring
communication and their exploitation by the common cuckoo. Nature,