Members of the Centre for Research in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour

Academic Staff | Postdoctoral Researchers | PhD Research Students | Masters Research StudentsHonorary Research Fellows | Alumni

Academic Staff

Professor Anne Robertson, CREEB Director
I work on hyporheic zone ecology, groundwater ecology, colonisation and succession of microcrustacean communities in new streams, and population dynamics of lotic meiofauna.

Dr Antonia Ford
I am interested in patterns of biodiversity and evolutionary processes generating and maintaining diversity. My current research focuses on the genomics of speciation and hybridisation in wild populations of fish species in East Africa. I mainly work on species important in fisheries and aquaculture, including endemic native species threatened by introduced invasive species. Current projects include surveying and population genetics of native species, and the development of a smartphone app for in-field species identification and distribution mapping.

Dr Lewis Halsey
My primary research investigates animal adaptations that enhance energetic efficiency. I typically study situations where food resources are scarce or energetically demanding to obtain. To help investigate these topics I am at the vanguard of the development and application of the 'acceleration technique' for estimating metabolic rate in both invertebrates and vertebrates, including humans.

Dr Isabel Santos Magalhaes
My research aims at understanding the evolutionary processes that promote and constrain organismal diversification, especially in the context of changing and dynamic environments. I am also interested in identifying whether (and what) areas of the genome have undergone episodes of strong selection leading to the observed divergence, and then to pinpoint the environmental causes of such divergence. I focus on the use of fish systems for addressing evolutionary questions. In order to address these questions my research integrates data from multiple sources combining ecological data sets such as abiotic environmental variables collected in the field and morphological, diet and stable isotope analyses of wild populations with phylogeographic, population genetic and genomic data obtained through conventional genetics and next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques.​

Dr Harry Marshall
I am a behavioural and evolutionary ecologist. I am interested in understanding the ecology and evolution of social animals, and using this knowledge to inform their conservation and management. In particular, I work on wild social vertebrate species asking questions such as how social foraging behaviour varies with environmental conditions, and how early-life experiences influence individual behaviour, health and survival in later-life.

Dr Daniel Perkins
My research focuses on understanding the structure and functioning of ecosystems. An ecosystem is more than the sum of its parts and by studying interactions between species (e.g. food webs) and their environment (e.g. temperature) we can gain key information about the pathways of energy flow that bring about real change in natural systems. I use a range of approaches from small-scale laboratory experiments, field surveys and large ecological datasets and my work searches for common mechanisms operating across aquatic and terrestrial realms.

Dr Andrea Perna
My main research interests are in the areas of self-organization in biological systems, collective animal behaviour and collective intelligence in group-living animals. I focus in particular on problems of coordination of collective motion in animal groups (such as flocking and schooling phenomena) and in the collective formation of spatial structures (e.g. nest building in social insects).

Dr Julia Reiss
I research the ecology of aquatic fauna with a particular focus on energy flow within freshwater assemblages. My other research topics include biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BE-F) and the size structure of natural communities.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Giulio Facchini (PI: Dr Andrea Perna)
I am a physicist coming from Fluid Mechanics with interests in instabilities, pattern formation, and self-organisation phenomena. In my research, I study self-organised structure formation in social insects, with a particular focus on arboreal nests of termites Nasutitermes, a termite group which is widespread across the tropical regions of all continents. I am interested in establishing a simple connection between the shape, the growth (building mechanisms) and the biological function of these structures. My research will hopefully provide new clues about the phylogenesis of this termite group and explain how these structures offer protection from rain and floods to the colonies that inhabit them. My work includes numerical modelling and fieldwork experiments in eastern Australia.

Dr Ignacio Peralta-Maraver (PI: Prof Anne Robertson)
My research focuses on the biology and ecology of aquatic communities of stream and rivers. Currently I am studying the link between species richness, abundance, trophic relationship, metabolic activity and secondary production of the protozoan and invertebrate communities, and their relationship with the biogeochemical conditions, flow-paths and pollutants in the hyporheic zone of lotic ecosystems.

Dr Louise Soanes (PI: Dr Lewis Halsey)
My research focuses on the foraging behaviour and ecology of seabirds, with a current focus on examining the asynchronous breeding habits of tropical seabirds. My field sites include the Caribbean UK Overseas Territories of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands where I am also involved in projects related to the conservation of critically endangered sea turtles and a recovery programme for the endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana

Dr. Michael Mcloughlin (PI: Dr Rebecca Stewart at Imperial College London, Co-I: Dr Alan McElligott)
I am currently investigating classification methods for chicken vocalisations that are linked to their welfare. My research has also included cultural transmission, digital signal processing and machine learning, in relation to humpback whale vocal communication.

PhD Research Students

Christle Coxon (Supervisors: Dr Leigh Gibson, Dr Lewis Halsey)
I am studying the biological, physiological and psychological factors that cause overeating. I have conducted several studies investigating how foods combining high levels of sugar and fat influences appetite and eating behaviour, and whether some individuals (personality traits) are more susceptible to these appetizing combinations. I have also studied how dietary protein intake may influence appetite and food intake (Protein Leverage Hypothesis), and whether regular physical activity and body composition influence these responses.

Kelly Edwards (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey, Dr Andrea Perna).
Kelly is studying the flight and foraging behaviour of birds, and how differences between individuals might relate to phenotypic traits such as morphology and personality. Data is being collected on both trained birds flying short distances (The Hawk Conservancy Trust, Hampshire, UK(, and wild birds during their breeding season (Anguilla, British West Indies).

Mary Henderson (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey and Dr Leigh Gibson)
Mary’s research interests are in energetics and health behaviours. She is investigating how human behaviours are influenced by energy homeostasis and why people respond differently to food intake (i.e. macronutrient composition) and physical activity which in turn drive their health behaviours. Mary tries to probe the intersection of these factors, i.e. the brain, which regulates energy balance and where conscious and unconscious decision-making takes place.

Zerihun Kebewe (Supervisors: Prof Anne Robertson, Dr Peter Shaw, Professor Claire Ozanne)
Zerihun is working in the Ethiopian highlands, studying the biodiversity of endemic coffee forests under contrasting management regimes.  He is also interviewing forest users and managers to develop an ethnographic understanding of their relationship with the forests.  The aim is to explore the extent to which local people's attitudes affect forest biodiversity, providing evidence that will underpin conservation planning.

Marianne Mason (Supervisors: Dr Alan McElligott, Professor Stuart Semple)
I study livestock (specifically goat) perception of cues given in human voices. I will assess subject ability to recognize individual humans, emotional cues in voices, as well as more mechanistic lines of enquiry such as laterality in auditory processing. I will also examine how they may use these cues, such as differentially assigning value to certain voices based on familiarity to solve cognitive challenges. I will discuss my research findings in relation to cognition and potential implications in animal welfare. The experimental phase of my research will be conducted at Buttercups Goat Sanctuary, Maidstone, Kent.

Alann Rathery (Supervisors: Dr Andrea Perna, Dr Lewis Halsey)
My research focuses on the nest in the species Lasius niger and some termites species (genus Nasutitermes). I am interested in the behaviour involved in such structures and the metabolism of colony members. I will study the shape of the nest in different structures and environmental conditions to see if colonies shape their nest differently according to the outside environment. I will link that to the respiration and activity in the colony through measure of CO2 emission and digging speed.

Naima Rizwan (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey, Dr Andrea Perna, Dr Dan Perkins)
I am focusing on ambient temperatures effects on metabolism, movement (speed and tortuosity) and behaviour of freshwater macroinvertebrates, namely Gammarus pulex, Crangonyx pseudogracilis, Niphragus kochianus and Niphragus fontanus. Specifically, I am measuring the oxygen consumption and activity levels of these species at the individual level, as proxies of possible sub-optimal reactions to temperature ranging from 4 to 33°C. I am employing vial-based oxygen sensor equipment in combination with controlled temperature rooms, Raspberry Pi cameras, and automated tracking hardware with customised software.

Tessa van Walsum (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey, Dr Andrea Perna)
I study diving physiology (i.e. heart rate, body temperature, and movement) of king penguins on the French sub-Antarctic island Crozet (Ile de la Possession). During my studies I will try to answer not only how they dive so deeply, but what limitations they face when diving to such depth. My research interests include; phylogeny, diving physiology, hydrodynamics, and extend to; behaviour, personality, and sleep.

Masters Research Students

(see Masters by Research in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour)

Kathryn M.E. McCollum (Supervisors: Dr Harry Marshall, Dr Lewis Halsey)
I am an evolutionary anthropologist, trained in the study of primatology and behavioral ecology. My research is primarily focused on how communication and behavior within social and solitary mammals, terrestrial and marine, is altered by anthropogenic noise pollution. I am studying how the short-finned pilot whales’ ability to communicate is hampered by recreational and commercial boating off the southern coast of Tenerife. My primary research interests include behavioral ecology, bioacoustics, marine mammals, non-human primates.

Edward Pearce-Taylor (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey, Dr Andrea Perna)
I am interested in information exchange and the purpose of rafting behaviour in colonial seabirds, specifically the northern gannet (Morus bassanus). My research project will consider whether individuals use rafting as a means to gain information from conspecifics. I also want to understand whether environmental factors influence the formation of and size of rafts.

Honorary Research Fellows

Dr Erica McAlister
Erica is collections manager and senior curator at the Natural History Museum, London. She is responsible for a team of curators working on Diptera, Siphonaptera, Arachnida and Myriapoda. She is also an active fieldworker undertaking joint research in many areas within Diptera.

Dr Les Ruse
Les has been a biologist in the water industry for more than 30 years. He has researched the distribution and ecology of chironomid (midge) larvae and is amongst the pioneers of the chironomid pupal exuvial technique.

Dr Peter Shaw (Reader)
My major research interest is the ecology of UK Collembola (springtails). I also examine the colonisation patterns in, and conservation management of, industrial wastes.


Professor Claire Ozanne
I work on the ecology of insects and other arthropods (springtails etc) in habitats influenced by human activities. I focus on examining hypotheses about animal community assembly rules and understanding how community varies under different internal and external pressures.

Dr Alan McElligott
Our research focuses on understanding how evolution, ecology and domestication have shaped the social behaviour, cognition and vocal communication of livestock. The current main model species for our research are goats, cattle and poultry. We produce knowledge that is relevant to animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, as well as animal husbandry and welfare. We are also currently studying how public attitudes to animal welfare and sentience are formed.​

Dr Jessica Bryant (PI: Dr Harry Marshall)
I am interested in understanding the ecology and behaviour of animals to guide threatened species conservation and management, appreciate human-ecosystem relationships, and inform public health issues. I concentrate largely on evidence-based conservation of species of extreme rarity – Critically Endangered species reduced to single, tiny, geographically-restricted populations. My current post-doctoral fellowship focuses on investigating olive baboon ecology in Ethiopia to assess their role as a possible transmission pathway in the spread of the parasitic nematode Guinea worm.

Marie-Claire Danner (Supervisors: Dr Julia Reiss, Professor Anne Robertson)
My research interests are focused on freshwater ecology and ecotoxicology and I am interested in looking at the effects of anthropogenic stressors on freshwater ecosystems. I started my PhD in September 2015 I aim to quantify the impact of antibiotics and temperature on freshwater communities.

Dr Nick Payne
Nick undertook a Cascade Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Roehampton. 
His interests centre on learning how marine animals interact with their environment by studying their movement patterns, biogeographies and energetics. His Cascade Fellowship focused on a range of large oceanic species, in particular ocean sunfish in the Mediterranean and around Ireland, and tiger sharks in Hawaii and northern Australia.  Nick is currently Assistant Professor at Trinity College, Dublin

Dr Stephanie Bird (Supervisors: Dr Peter Shaw, Professor Claire Ozanne, Dr Andrew Salisbury)
Stephanie's PhD was co-funded by the Royal Horticultural Society. She studied the influence of garden planting choices on soil biodiversity and functioning. She used the Plants For Bugs experimental plots in Wisley Gardens as well as wild habitats nearby, and combined classical taxonomy with genetic barcoding to identify soil faunal biodiversity. She used a variety of approaches to quantify decomposer activity within the soils, to see whether soil function is affected by changes in its animal community.  Steph is currently employed at RHS Wisley.

Dr Damiano Weitowitz (Supervisors: Professor Anne Robertson, Dr Julia Reiss, Dr Louise Maurice and Dr John Bloomfield).
Damiano's PhD was co-funded by the British Geological Survey. He examined how geology shapes the distributions of groundwater animals across different spatial scales. He also studied the trophic effects of stygobites in experimental groundwater microcosms. Damiano is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher for Footprint Ecology.

Dr Astrid Willener (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey, Professor Anne Robertson, Dr Siobahn Strike).
Astrid investigated the onshore life of king penguins. This involved studying their energy expenditure and biomechanics and understanding their physiological stress-response.

Dr Phil Collins (Supervisors: Dr Lewis Halsey, Dr Peter Shaw).
Phil studied the behavioural physiology and ecology of nesting kittiwakes, both in the UK and in the US. He developed techniques to analyse accelerometer data to quantify long- and short-term behaviours such as time at sea and wing beat frequency, respectively. Phil now works for a medical literature publishing house in London.

Dr Octavian Pacioglu (Supervisors: Professor Anne Robertson, Dr Peter Shaw)
What is the response of hyporheic assemblages to nutrient and associated land use pollution pressures? Octavian is currently a Research Assistant at West University of Timisoara, Romania.

Dr Mark Dunscombe (Supervisors: Professor Anne Robertson, Dr Peter Shaw)
Understanding the hydrogeologic controls on lowland hyporheic assemblages in the UK. Mark currently works for APEM.

Dr Mike McDermott (Supervisors: Professor Anne Robertson, Dr Peter Shaw, Professor Alexander Milner).
Colonisation and succession of lotic meiofauna following glacial recession.

Dr Roger Baker (Supervisors: Professor Anne Robertson, Dr Peter Shaw)
Colonisation and succession of meiofauna in the Jubilee River.

Dr Imogen Palmer (Supervisors: Professor Claire Ozanne, Dr Peter Shaw).
Edge effects on canopy arthropods in UK plantations.

Dr Christie Allen (Supervisors: Professor Claire Ozanne, Dr Caroline Ross)
Amerindian ethnoecology, Resource use and forest management in southwest Guyana.

Dr Erica McAlister (Supervisors: Dr Claire Ozanne, Dr Peter Shaw)
Arthropod Colonisation of a created urban wetland, Barnes Wetland Centre. Erica is currently Senior Curator for Diptera and Siphonaptera at the Natural History Museum, London.

Dr Barbara Hancock (Supervisors: Professsor Anne Robertson, Dr Peter Shaw).
The physical and biological factors affecting meiofauna in the Jubilee River.

Dr Dave Bennett (Supervisors: Dr Caroline Ross, Professor Claire Ozanne).
Human Wildlife conflict:perception of crop damage and crop protection.

Dr Dan Weaver (Supervisors: Professor Claire Ozanne, Dr Peter Shaw).
Diversity of Diptera and Collembola in disturbed and undisturbed forest, Gashaka Gumpti National Park, Nigeria.