Evolution, behaviour and environment


This group focuses on how organisms evolve and interact with their environments. We address basic and strategic questions in both field and laboratory settings across a wide range of study taxa, as well as using theoretical approaches.

Major themes are:

  • How changes in developmental gene networks lead to evolutionary novelty
  • The role of natural selection in molecular evolution
  • Cooperation, conflict and organization in social insect colonies
  • Mechanisms underlying animal behaviours, including navigation, visual perception, escape behaviour and collective decision-making
  • Ecology and conservation of invertebrate and plant communities including tropical rain forests, temperate grasslands, pollinators and amphibian conservation genetics
  • The measurement of environmental contaminants, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, and their effects on human and animal health

Facilities include constant environment rooms, greenhouses, facilities for chemical analysis of contaminants, and facilities for studying and culturing social insects including a molecular lab, ant room and apiaries (LASI, Social Evolution Research Group, Insect Navigation Group). Our location enables ready access to several national nature reserves and the recently established South Downs National Park. Overseas fieldwork is conducted at field sites around the world from Spain to Brazil, Fiji and Malaysia, and we run field courses in Ecuador, England and Scotland. Current funding is from a range of sources including Research Councils, EU, Food Standards Agency, Royal Society, DEFRA and Industry.

The group’s complementary expertise encourages cross-disciplinarity and we hold two regular seminar series in Evolution and Development. We also have established ties with other research groupings at Sussex such as Informatics and Neuroscience, and collaborate with scientists in a wide range of external organizations including formal links with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We encourage enquiries from potential PhD students, postdocs and holders of externally funded fellowships.

Find out about our principal investigators and labs.

To find out how you can study with us please refer to either the Undergraduate or Postgraduate section.