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Department of Zoology


Behavioural ecology studies how adaptations arise from selective pressures under different ecological environments, including new selective environments that are generated by animal behaviour. At the intersection of ecology, evolution, neuroscience and genomics, behavioural ecology explores the evolutionary causes and ecological consequences of behaviour.

Work in the Department has a particular focus on understanding behaviours and other adaptations that arise when animals interact. There is a strong interest in social evolution and the selective conditions that yield cooperation versus conflict. We also track the influence of behaviour on growth, survival and reproduction over the entire lifetime of individuals. 

Much of our research investigates co-evolutionary interactions between species and the relentless dynamics of evolutionary change that result. 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 conspecifics or other species live.

Our Research Groups

Behaviour and Evolution Group

Rufus Johnstone – Adaptive behaviour under varying social and ecological conditions. 

Kilner Group

Rebecca Kilner – The effects of behaviour on evolution. 

Large Animal Research Group

Tim Clutton-Brock – Evolutionary causes and ecological consequences of animal societies. 

Marine Behavioural Ecology Group

James Herbert-Read – Behavioural adaptations of marine organisms. 

Spottiswoode Group

Claire Spottiswoode – Evolution and ecology of parasitism and mutualism.