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My main interests are reproductive, behavioural and ecological physiology, working at the whole animal level, using several different systems (e.g. dogs, cows, meerkats, voles, mice, mole-rats, pangolins, deer, squirrels, badgers, elephants, cheetahs). Work is interdisciplinary, encompassing aspects of energetics and thermoregulation, behavioural ecology, movement ecology, conservation physiology and chronobiology. The main areas of research may be sub‑grouped into:

  • Energy expenditure, metabolism and resting metabolic rate.
  • Behavioural Ecology, cooperative breeding and the evolution of breeding systems.
  • The physiology and evolutionary ecology of organisms, with particular emphasis on thermoregulatory adaptations to the environment.
  • Interactions between energetics, life history strategies and disease.
  • Use of physiological techniques for implementing practical conservation.

Quantitative measurements of comparative physiology, ecophysiology and behaviour which include laboratory and field determinations of metabolism, thermoregulation, disease, movement and behavioural profiling. We pursue ideas of conservation physiology in which quantitative data are used to inform management strategies in natural and agricultural environments. Examples include studies on energetics and movement in cheetahs, pangolins, and sloths as well as behaviour and disease in badgers with risks of tuberculosis infection to cattle.

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Open to PhD applications from those with at least a 2.1 degree in the biological sciences interested in physiological, conservation and behavioural ecology. 

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Alumni: where are they now?

Gareth Arnott

PhD Title: Information gathering and decisions during agonistic encounters

Years of Study: 2006-2009

Country: NI

Current Position: Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast

Natasha McGowan

PhD title: Physiological correlates of parasitism and behaviour in mammals

Years of Study: 2011-2015

Country: NI

Current position: Post-doctoral research assistant, Queen’s University Belfast

David McClune

PhD title: Energy expenditure and behaviour of the European badger

Years of Study: 2011-2015

Country: NI

Current position: Software engineer in financial analytics

Research Students

Phd Title: Using technology to explore carnivore behaviour and physiology

Name: Carolyn Dunford

Years of Study: 2015-2019

Phd Title: Factors effecting ecology and habitat suitability of the European pine marten

Name: Josh Twining

Years of Study: 2016-2019


Phd Title: Understanding the epidemiology of bovine TB and potential routes of infection from badgers to cattle

Name: Sophie Redpath

Years of Study: 2017-2019

Phd Title: Alpine ibex, agriculture and global change: Interactions between behaviour, physiology and disease

Name: Eleanor Dickinson

Years of Study: 2017-2019


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