Sensory Ecology & Evolution site banner (Jolyon Troscianko)

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.


You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Flickr and also subscribe to our YouTube channel!


Looking into doing an MSc by Research?

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.


Recent News

book Out in early 2016!

October 22: Announcing the anti-predator Symposium! On 4 & 5 August, following ISBE 2016, we will host a symposium on anti-predator coloration. Find out more and register here.

October 21: New paper out by Sarah Paul: Paul, S.C., Pell, J.K., and Blount, J.D. - Reproduction in Risky Environments: The Role of Invasive Egg Predators in Ladybird Laying Strategies. PloS one 10.10 (2015): e0139404. here.

October 8: We have a new paper in Ecology and Evolution! Find out how body size influences predation risk in poison frogs. Take a look at the findings here.

September 30: We have a new paper showing that lizard coloration is tuned to provide camouflage in local environments. Take a look at the findings in PLoS ONE.

September 25: We have a new addition to the sensory ecology team! Natasha Price will be investigating shore crab pattern and camouflage in her masters by research over the coming year.

September 9: Our nightjar games are forming part of a new California Academy of Sciences exhibition on The Color of Life .

September 8: Our latest paper shows that stink bug mothers can control their egg colours to protect them from UV light. It’s published in Current Biology.

September 4: We have a new paper showing that, for male lizards, conspicuous coloration impairs survival. Check it out in Ecology and Evolution.

August 25: Martin has a new book coming out in February, all about deception in nature. You can take a first look at what’s in store here.

August 14: Sarah and Sara presented their latest results at Behaviour 2015 this week, sharing their work on warning colouration and camouflage with those at the conference.

August 12: Anna and Martin's new prey capture paper has received a lot of media interest around the world, from the Telegraph and Independent, to the Mail and Mirror: have a look here.

August 12: Anna and Martin have a new paper on how different patterns, such as stripes, may affect prey capture: read it here in Frontiers in Zoology.

August 12: We have a new paper out on camouflage and how sand fleas match the colour and brightness of the different beaches where they grow up: read it here in Biology Letters.

August 11: Martin spoke to Radio Cornwall about our new software and studying animal vision.

August 10: Martin gave a talk at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno on how animals communicate with colours and patterns.

August 8: Emmanuelle ran an exhibition on moth coloration at Science in the Square, sharing her expertise and passion for sensory ecology with the local community.

August 7: Jolyon and Martin's new paper and software is being covered in the media, from the Independent to the Mail and Washington Post here's an example.

August 6: Jolyon and Martin have a new paper and released some free software for image analysis and modelling animal vision take a look here in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

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.

July 2: We have a new paper in PLoS ONE showing that changes in women’s skin colour during the ovulatory cycle can’t be detected by humans. It’s been covered in Huffington Post, Live Science and other outlets.

July 1: Emannuelle and Sara led a colouration workshop on campus, giving Year 12 students from London an insight into sensory ecology research.

June 17: We have a new paper in Proceedings B showing that cuckoo hosts evolve egg signatures that increase information about identity.

June 11: One of our latest papers has been covered in National Geographic and NewScientist.

June 9: Sara and Jenny spent the day sharing our research with the public at Falmouth’s Wild Film Fest!

June 5: Lina, Dominic and Martin have a new paper out on warning coloration, honest signalling and predation risk in ladybirds! Check it out in Scientific Reports.


June 3: Martin and Graeme Ruxton have reviewed the evolutionary ecology of decorating behaviour. Their review is now out in Biology Letters,

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