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Dr Erica Morley

Dr Erica Morley

Dr Erica Morley
BSc(Bristol), MSc(Bangor), PhD(Bristol)

Postdoctoral Senior Research Associate in Sensory Biophysics

Area of research

Sensory biophysics in invertebrate systems

Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41415


I am interested in how insects detect and respond to sounds and electrostatic stimuli that occur within their environment. Previous behavioural experiments show that bumblebees are able to discriminate between flowers held at DC voltages at levels found in their natural habitats. The sensory mechanism used in detecting these terrestrial electrostatic fields, and the extent to which this novel cue is used by the bees in real world foraging situations is not yet certain. My current work attempts to understand how bees detect these fields and the relevance of electrostatic stimuli in ecologically relevant contexts.

I am also interested in bioacoustics. Insects can use sounds across a range of contexts, from courtship and mate location to predator evasion, and have evolved a variety of ear types to detect these stimuli. My work has focused on the mechanics of their auditory systems and the biophysics of the sound fields that these sensors are subjected to. Another aspect to my bioacoustics work involves investigating and assessing the impacts of anthropogenic (man-made) noise on wildlife. This is a problem that is pervasive throughout urbanised, industrial and high-traffic areas in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. 


I graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in biology in 2004. Following this, I spent 2 years working as a research assistant on a variety of different projects. I spent 6 months collecting data on pollination ecology in a coastal heathland ecosystem in New South Wales, Australia as part of a study linked with the University of Bristol and the Australian Museum. Returning to the UK, in 2005 I worked as a field assistant on the long-running St Kilda Soay sheep project during the lambing season. I then moved back to Bristol and led a series of surveys on aquatic plant assemblages in the Cotswold Water Park under the supervision of Dr Marian Yallop. After my stint as an aquatic botanist, I started working on a project investigating willow tit ecology in north Nottinghamshire for the RSPB. Between 2006 and 2007 completed a master’s degree in ecology at Bangor University where my research project focused on behavioural syndromes in the Trinidadian guppy. Following this, in 2007, I started a PhD under the supervision on Prof. Daniel Robert at the University of Bristol on audition in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Since completing my PhD in 2011 I have continued to study sensory biology and bioacoustics in a variety of both vertebrate and invertebrate systems. My first postdoc (2011-2012), under the supervision of Dr Andy Radford, addressed the impacts of anthropogenic noise on wildlife. This involved writing a report for Defra on the the impacts of anthropogenic noise on UK terrestrial wildlife and also fieldwork to collect data on the impacts of noise on marine fish. In 2013 i began working as a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr Andrew Mason's lab at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where I turned my attention back to bioacoustics and sensory biology in invertebrates, including tree crickets, butterflies and spiders. I took up my current postion as a postdoc at the University of Bristol in 2015 where I investigate the sensory biophysics of electrostatic detection in bees.


2015-present Senior research associate, University of Bristol
2013-2015 Postdoctoral fellow, University of Toronto Scarborough
2011-2012 Research associate, University of Bristol
2007-2011 PhD bioacoustics, University of Bristol
2006-2007 MSc Ecology, Bangor University
2006 Research assistant, RSPB
2005 Research assistant, University of Bristol
2005 Field assistant, St Kilda Soay sheep project
2004 Research assistant, University of Bristol, Australian Museum & University of Sydney
2001-2004 BSc Biology, University of Bristol


  • Bioacoustics
  • Sensory biology
  • Neuroethology
  • Anthropogenic noise
  • Bio-electrostatics
  • Invertebrates


  • Laser Doppler vibrometry
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Electrophysiology



School of Biological Sciences

Research groups

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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