Welcome to our sensory ecology and evolution group!
We study several areas in sensory and evolutionary ecology, including animal (particularly bird) vision, anti-predator coloration (especially camouflage, warning signals, and eyespots), brood parasitism, and communication. We study animals from many taxonomic groups, including birds, reptiles, crabs, insects, primates, and even humans, with lab and fieldwork both in the UK and abroad. If you are interested in joining or working with us, please get in touch!
We are based in Cornwall at the Penryn Campus of Exeter University, near Falmouth.
There are a number of opportunities in our group, especially for work on camouflage in shore animals. Please get in touch if you're interested.
July 6: Four visitors have joined us for the summer: Jesús Gómez Esteban (colouration and camouflage in shorebird eggs), Ian Chan (morphological patterns in animals), Rafael Duarte ( colour polymorphism and camouflage in shrimp) and Luis Robledo-Ospina (spider coloration and microhabitat)!
July 4: Sam, Sara and Emmanuelle ran two camouflage workshops for Year 9 students this afternoon. With the aid of stick insects, shore crabs and burnet moths, the students left with a wealth of coloration knowledge!
July 3: Jolyon has been out to Mullion School to show their EcoSoc students what it’s like to see through the eyes of other animals and how we model their vision here in Penryn.
June 3: Martin and Graeme Ruxton have reviewed the evolutionary ecology of decorating behaviour. Their review is now out in Biology Letters, take a look!
January 15: There is a new review out of Martin’s Sensory Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution textbook. The review can be found here.
December 31: We have a new paper out! Martin, Alice and Louisa have a new paper out in PLoS ONE on individual variation in shore crabs from different habitat types around Cornwall.
December 1: Sam, Jenny, Emmanuelle and Sara have been interviewed about “The Science of Christmas,” an up-coming event on the 3rd December at The Poly, Falmouth. Click here to access the first of their interviews and skip to 1hr51 to listen to Sam and Jenny.
November 12: Some of Martin’s work on eyespots is covered in a BBCearth article describing six ways animals use fake eyes. The article can be found here.
Martin was the programme advisor for the first episode of a new BBC TV series aired today, 'Inside the Animal Mind'. He also appeared in the programme doing an experiment with starling flight and vision.
November 26: New paper out
on whether eyespots really do mimic predator eyes.
September 24: Our new paper is out in
! It shows that cuckoo finches use mimicry and repeatedly laying eggs in the same host nest to confuse hosts and reduce the likelihood of rejection.
September 24: Jolyon and Jared are in Zambia and in the first few days have nearly 40 nests already, including nightjars, plovers, and coursers!
September 15: Jolyon and Jared are on their way to Zambia and the nightjars for phase two of the bird camouflage and bird predation field season. They had a successful season in South Africa: 48 kittlitz's plover nests, 8 white-fronted, 11 blacksmith and 3 chestnut banded plovers!
September 9: Welcome to Nikoletta Geltsch who joins our group for three months as a visiting PhD student working on cuckoo egg mimicry!
August 16: Check out our brand
for our work on camouflage in birds!
August 16: We will be taking part in the Science in the Square event in Falmouth, where we will set up our new camouflage citizen science camouflage game 'find the nightjar'.
August 5: Our new field season in South Africa looking at plover camouflage has started well with Jolyon and Jared finding nests already. The first predation footage has been captured too. Have a look here.
July 29: Jolyon and Jared are heading off to South Africa and Zambia to start the new field seasons investigating camouflage in birds. Follow our Facebook and Twitter (@ProjectNightjar and @SensoryEcology) accounts for updates.
February 1-May 26: A new exhibition ‘Abbott Hanerson Thayer: A Beautiful Law of Nature’ will take place in Virginia from February 1 – May 26, 2013 outlining Thayer’s ideas about natural and military camouflage. See: National Sporting Library and Museum.