Evolution, behaviour and environment

Research

Professor Jeremy FieldSubject Chair:
Professor Jeremy Field

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

Principal investigators and labs

Professor Jonathan Bacon

My research examines insect behaviour, and its underlying neural circuitry, in two escape-behaviour systems.

For more information visit the Bacon Lab website.

Professor Tom Collett

The navigational strategies employed by insects enable them to walk or fly over long distances, find food and return to their nest. To accomplish this they utilise a toolkit of elegant sensory and 'cognitive' strategies. In the Insect Navigation Group, we study these strategies using traditional behavioural experiments as well computational and robotic models.

For more information visit the Insect navigation website.

Professor Adam Eyre-Walker

The principle of focus of my research is the rate, pattern and effects of mutations. We study these questions through the statistical analysis of DNA sequences and mathematical modeling, largely from an evolutionary perspective. Our interests range from the rate of adaptive evolution, to the evolution of base composition and how the mutation rate varies across the genome. I also have a growing interest in the sociology of science. More information can be obtained under the research tab.

For more information please visit the Eyre-Walker website

Professor Jeremy Field

Our research focusses on the behavioural and evolutionary ecology of social systems, using wasps and bees as models. We are particularly interested in the fundamental question of how and why helping is evolved and is maintained.

For more information visit the Field Lab website.

Professor Tim Flowers

For more information on Tim Flowers please visit his profile page.

Professor Dave Goulson

I study the ecology, behaviour and conservation of bumblebees. I'm also interested in pollinators and pollination more generally, and particularly in the sustainable management of pollinators in agro-ecosystems. My group uses a broad range of approaches, from genetic studies (of inbreeding, population structure, and as a means of estimating nest density) to behavioural assays to large-scale field trials. In recent years we have become heavily involved in studies of the impacts of pesticides on bumblebees. We are also involved in various “Citizen Science” projects as a mechanism to involve large numbers of people in conservation and in science more generally, and also as a means for gathering large data sets. In 2003 I bought a farm in France on which to carry out large-scale habitat manipulation experiments.

For more information visit the Goulson Lab website

Dr Paul Graham

The navigational strategies employed by insects enable them to walk or fly over long distances, find food and return to their nest. To accomplish this they utilise a toolkit of elegant sensory and 'cognitive' strategies. In the Insect Navigation Group, we study these strategies using traditional behavioural experiments as well computational and robotic models.

For more information visit the Insect navigation website.

Dr David Harper

For more information on Dr David Harper please visit his profile page

Professor Elizabeth Hill

My research is focussed on the identification of biologically active chemicals which include chemical contaminants which impact animal health or chemical signals which alter animal behaviour.

For more information visit the Hill Lab website

Professor Bill Hughes

The Hughes Lab studies the behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology of sociality, symbiosis and sex. We use social insects as our main study organisms. As one of the pinnacles of sociality, social insects are amongst the most important models for understanding, for example, how work can be efficiently organised in complex societies, how cooperation evolves and why it is maintained in the face of the apparent advantages that can be obtained by cheating. Social insects are important models too for examining other more general problems such as defences against disease, the importance of symbioses and the evolution of different mating strategies. Social insects are also of tremendous ecological and economic importance, including many significant pest species as well as beneficial insects such as honeybees.

For more information visit the Hughes Lab website

Dr Ted Morrow

We are interested in understanding more about the nitty gritty of sexual conflict. An understanding of sexual conflict at a more detailed level will clarify how sexual dimorphism evolves (or doesn't) and whether sexually antagonistic can contribute to the maintenance of genetic variation.

For more information visit the Morrow Lab Website

Professor Daniel Osorio

How do animals see their worlds, recognise objects and communicate with visual signals? We study birds, butterflies and cuttlefish to investigate how they use colour and shape in their natural behaviours. We are  interested in how eyes and brains should measure the colour spectrum and spatial pattern in natural images, and especially how different types of colour vision have evolved.

For more information visit the Osorio Lab Website

Dr Mika Peck

Our work ranges from defining conservation priorities of individual endangered species to investigating the impacts of global change on  entire habitats. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms that generate and maintain species diversity in the world's biodiversity  hotspots and human impact on these processes.

For more information visit the Peck Lab website.

Professor Francis Ratnieks

The Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at the University of Sussex is the largest research group in the UK studying honey bees and other social insects. Social insects are the insects that live in a colony with a queen and workers like many bees, ants, wasps and termites. LASI research studies the honey bee and other social insects "in the round" addressing both applied and basic questions. The applied research is aimed at helping the honey bee and beekeepers, whilst the basic research studies how insect societies function.

For more information visit the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) website.

Dr Jörn Scharlemann

We seek to quantitatively assess the impacts of environmental changes on biodiversity and ecosytems and identify policy-relevant strategies to reduce the effects of human impacts. Work in our group extends beyond the traditional fields of ecology and conservation, and we attempt to consider social, economic and political factors that drive, and in turn are driven by, changes in the environment.

For more information visit the Scharlemann Lab website

Dr Liz Somerville

For more information on Dr Liz Somerville please visit her profile page.

Dr Alan Stewart

I have broad research interests in population and community ecology, especially of insects.  A unifying theme running through the various projects in which I have been involved is how fundamental ecological principles can be used to assist the conservation of rare and endangered species and the preservation of biodiversity both in the UK and overseas.

For more information visit the Stewart Lab website

David Streeter

For more information on David Streeter please visit his profile page.