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I study the evolution of brains and behaviour. I am particularly interested in how brains adapt to different environments, how changes in brain structure produce behavioural differences, and how selection navigates developmental and functional constraints that may limit or channel the adaptive response.
I take a comparative approach to tackling these questions, comparing molecular and phenotypic data across species. Much of my work in mammals has focused on identifying genes associated with the evolution of brain size, and investigating the causes and consequences of co-evolution between different regions of the brain, and between brain and body size. I also have side interests in dwarfism, animal play, and human evolution.
Currently, Neotropical butterflies are the major focus of my research. I study two tribes of mimetic butterflies, the Ithomiini and Heliconiini. The diversification of these butterflies has often involved ecological adaptation to different habitat types and ecological niches. As a result they show a range of derived behavioural traits including sensory adaptations and novel foraging behaviours. This pattern of ecological adaptation make these butterflies an ideal case study in ecological neurobiology.
University of Bristol positions
Senior Research FellowSchool of Biological Sciences
Managing organisational unitSchool of Biological Sciences
02/09/2019 to 30/09/2021
An agent-based model clarifies the importance of functional and developmental integration in shaping brain evolution
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America