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Behavioural Ecology Group

A female reed warbler (left) watching her eggs being ejected from the nest, one by one, while the male waits to feed the young cuckoo with a fly. Field drawing from Wicken Fen by James McCallum.
A female reed warbler (left) watching her eggs being ejected from the nest, one by one, while the male waits to feed the young cuckoo with a fly. Field drawing from Wicken Fen by James McCallum.

We study how behavioural adaptations evolve in response to ecological and social selection pressures. Most of our work involves field studies of birds and recent include: sexual conflict and mating systems in dunnocks, cooperative breeding in babblers, sexual selection in bowerbirds, alarm calling in honeyeaters and cuckoo-host coevolution.  

Current research topics include:

  • How hosts defend against brood parasitic cuckoos and how cuckoos overcome host defences.

  • How Australian honeyeaters use alarm calls to signal predation risk.

Key Publications

Davies, N.B., Krebs, J.R. & West, S.A. 2012. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, Fourth edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

Thorogood, R. & Davies, N.B. 2012. Cuckoos combat socially transmitted defences of reed warbler hosts with a plumage polymorphism. Science, 337, 578- 580.

Davies, Nick. 2015. Cuckoo - Cheating by Nature. Bloomsbury.

Davies, Nick. 2015. Cuckoos and their victims: an evolutionary arms race. Croonian lecture of the Royal Society.

York, J.E. & Davies, N.B. 2017. Female cuckoo calls misdirect host defences towards the wrong enemy. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1, 1520-1525. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0279-3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0279-3.pdf

Full list of publications

 

Contact Details

Group Leader

Professor Nick Davies

nbd1000@cam.ac.uk

Department of Zoology
University of Cambridge
Downing St
Cambridge
CB2 3EJ

01223  (3)34405

Group Members