Dr Martin Stevens

Visible light (left) and UV (right)

Group Leader

Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE. UK.


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2015 Associate Professor of Sensory and Evolutionary Ecology

2012-2014 BBSRC David Philips Senior Research Fellow

2009-2012 Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge

2009-2012 BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, Cambridge

2006-2009 Research Fellow, Girton College, Cambridge

2006 PhD Bristol



Selected Publications (see Publications page for full list)

Stevens, M. Cheats and Deceits: How Animals and Plants Exploit and Mislead. 2016. Oxford University Press.


Stevens, M. Sensory Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution. 2013. Oxford University Press.

Stevens, M. & Merilaita, S. (Editors). 2011. Animal Camouflage: From Mechanisms to Function. Cambridge University Press.

Caves, E.M., Stevens, M., Iversen, E.S. & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2015. Hosts of brood parasites have evolved egg phenotypic signatures with elevated information content. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B. 282: 20150598.


Arenas, L. M., Walter, D. & Stevens, M. 2015. Signal honesty and predation risk among a closely related group of aposematic species. Scientific Reports. 5: 11021.


Ruxton, G.D. & Stevens, M. 2015. The evolutionary ecology of decorating behaviour. Biology Letters. 11: 20150325.


Stevens, M., Lown, A.E, & Denton, A.M. In Press. Rockpool gobies change colour for camouflage. PLoS ONE. 9: e110325.


Allen, W. L., Stevens, M. & Higham, J. P. 2014. Character displacement of Cercopithecini primate visual signals. Nature Communications. 5: 4266.


Stevens, M. 2013. Bird brood parasitism. Current Biology. 23: R909-R913.


Stevens, M., Troscianko, J. & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2013. Repeated targeting of the same hosts by a brood parasite compromises host egg rejection. Nature Communications. 4: 2475.


Troscianko, J., Lown, A.E., Hughes, A.E. & Stevens, M. 2013. Defeating crypsis: detection and learning of camouflage strategies. PLoS ONE. 8: e73733.


Stevens, M., Pei Rong, C., Todd, P.A. 2013. Colour Change and Camouflage in the Horned Ghost Crab Ocypode ceratophthalmus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 109: 257-270.


Stevens, M. 2013. Evolutionary Ecology: Knowing How to Hide Your Eggs. Current Biology. 23: R106-108.


Spottiswoode, C.N. & Stevens, M. 2012. Host-parasite arms races and rapid changes in bird egg appearance. American Naturalist. 179: 633-648.


Stevens, M. & Ruxton, G.D. 2012. Linking the evolution and form of warning coloration in nature. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B. 279: 417-426.


Stevens, M., Searle, W.T.L., Seymour, J.E., Marshall, K.M. & Ruxton, G.D. 2011. Motion dazzle and camouflage as distinct anti-predator defenses. BMC Biology. 9:81.


Stoddard, M.C. & Stevens, M. 2011. Avian vision and the evolution of egg color mimicry in the common cuckoo. Evolution. 65: 2004-2013.


Spottiswoode, C.N. & Stevens, M. 2010. Visual modeling shows that avian host parents use multiple visual cues in rejecting parasitic eggs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107: 8672-8676.


Stoddard, M.C. & Stevens, M. 2010. Pattern mimicry of host eggs by the common cuckoo, as seen through a bird's eye. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B. 277: 1387–1393.


Stevens, M. & Merilaita, S. 2009. Animal camouflage: current issues and new perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B. 364: 423-427.


Stevens, M., Hardman, C.J., & Stubbins, C.L. 2008. Conspicuousness, not eye mimicry, makes ‘eyespots’ effective anti-predator signals. Behavioral Ecology. 19: 525–531.


Stevens, M., Párraga, C. A., Cuthill, I.C., Partridge, J.C. & Troscianko, T. 2007. Using digital photography to study animal coloration. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 90: 211-237.


Stevens, M. 2005. The role of eyespots as anti-predator mechanisms, principally demonstrated in the Lepidoptera. Biological Reviews. 80: 573-588.


Cuthill, I.C., Stevens, M., Sheppard, J, Maddocks, T, Párraga, C. A. & Troscianko, T. 2005. Disruptive coloration and background pattern matching. Nature. 434: 72-74.



Invited Lectures

UK: University of Sussex (Biology & Environmental Science); University of Exeter (Psychology); Royal Holloway (Psychology); Newcastle University (Neuroscience); University of Oxford (Zoology, EGI); University of Edinburgh (Institute for Evolutionary Biology); University of Bristol (Vision Institute and School of Biological Sciences); University of Bath (Biology & Biochemistry); International Primatological Conference, Edinburgh (2008).


Mainland Europe: Stockholm University (Zoology) Sweden; University of Jyväskylä (Biological and Environmental Sciences), Finland; Uppsala University (Ecology & Evolution), Sweden; Bern University (Institute of Ecology & Evolution), Switzerland; European Congress on Behavioural Biology, Dijon, France (2008); European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Lisbon, Portugal (2013).


USA: Wake Forest University (Biology); University of Nebraska (Biology); University of Chicago (Ecology and Evolution); Stanford University (Biology); Princeton University (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology); New York University (Anthropology); City University New York, Hunter College (Psychology); University of California Davis (Biology); University of California Santa Cruz (Biology); University of California LA (Biology); Smithsonian/Army and Navy Club, Washington DC, USA.


Asia: National University of Singapore (Biology); International Primatological Conference, Kyoto, Japan (2010); Integrative Behavioral Biology, Xi’an, China (2011, Keynote); International Symposium on Avian Brood Parasitism, Hainan, China (2012); Camouflage Cultures: surveillance, communities, aesthetics, animals (2013), Sydney, Australia.



Media and Outreach

My work has been covered in a wide range of media including on various occasions on BBC Earth News, the New York Times, the Times, LA Times, Japan Times, USA Today, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Australian, Time Magazine, New Scientist, National Geographic, MSNBC, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Scotland, CBC Radio Canada, NPR Radio USA, German Radio WDR 5, Discovery, Nature, Science, TREE, Proceedings B, Discover, Natural History Magazine, Discovery Canada, Nature News, plus a wide range of national newspapers around the world and internet sites.


TV appearances: BBC 2, Inside the Animal Mind, programme 1 (28 January 2014); BBC1 The One Show (25 February 2014); National Geographic, Jurassic CSI, programme 1 (2011).


I have also been contacted by and appeared in a wide range of other reactive media outlets, including radio programmes of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, CBC Quirks and Quarks, and NPR on topics such as why zebras have stripes and animal camouflage and behaviour. I have also advised a range of organisations including the BBC1 and BBC 2, Channel 4, PBS, and the History Channel on TV programmes, and for other publications such as BBC Gardeners' World, Smithsonian and various natural history magazines. Some of my research methods have been used in interactive museum exhibitions and school teaching in the USA. I have also helped with art exhibitions related to animal coloration.


I am also currently a BBSRC Schools Regional Champion for the SW for my outreach work to school students.

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