Evolution and behaviour

Behavioural and physiological ecology

The Ecology and Evolution Research Group (EERG) operates at two levels when trying to understand the responses of organisms to their environment.

Behavioural ecology encompasses the range of animal behaviour work that goes on in the group, including the use of laboratory model systems (the fruit fly Drosophila, the Indian meal moth Plodia, and the red flour beetle Tribolium), long-term field projects (seabirds, Caspian seals, badgers). Central to all of these systems is the pursuit of an understanding of how individual behaviours contribute to larger scale processes, whether that is population dynamics, the evolution (or evolutionary history) of particular traits, or the future of ecological networks. EERG research in physiological ecology follows a parallel path: testing fundamental hypotheses that explain variation in plant and animal physiological responses to changing environments.

Work in physiological ecology includes the study of plant physiological responses to changing atmospheric compositions, climates, or nutrient supply, with world-leading translational work that seeks to apply those insights to enhance agricultural yields. Livestock science (with a focus on pigs and poultry) also features heavily, and research is ongoing to explore how physiological parameters such as stress and nutritional status can be used to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner. Underlying all of this is a mechanistic understanding of how animals function, and other research within EERG seeks to understand complex processes such as flight and swimming in vertebrates and invertebrates from a mechanistic and biomechanical basis.

Key researchers

Dr Graham Askew
Associate Professor in Biomechanics

Dr Amanda Bretman
Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour

Professor Lisa Collins
Professor of Animal Science

Dr Elizabeth Duncan
Associate Professor of Zoology

Professor Alison Dunn
Reader in Evolutionary Biology

Dr Simon Goodman

Dr Henry Greathead
Lecturer in Biology

Dr Christopher Hassall
Associate Professor of Biology

Dr Katie McDermott
Lecturer in Sustainable Livestock Production

Dr Cassandra Raby
Teaching Fellow in Biology

Dr Steven Sait
Reader in Ecology

Dr Amy Taylor
Lecturer in Animal Health and Nutrition

Dr Lochran Traill