Research Interests

My research has focused on four themes: (i) Animal Communication. In the late 1970s, together with Dawkins, I challenged the then received wisdom that animal communication is cooperative. Instead we argued signallers exploit receivers and vice versa. (ii) Foraging strategies. In collaboration with Charnov, Stephens, Kacelnik and others, I developed the idea that economic models of decision-making could be applied to foraging animals and used to predict both the distribution of foraging effort across patches, and the choice of prey items within a patch. (iii) Memory adaptations and the brain. Together with Sherry, Shettleworth, Clayton and others, I developed a research programme to investigate the relationship between spatial memory, neuroanatomical specialisation in the brain and food-storing behaviour. (iv) Population ecology. In my early work I analysed the relationship between food supply and territorial behaviour in limiting bird populations. More recently I have led a team investigating the ways in which modern farming practice has caused declines in many bird populations in the UK. I have also spent eleven years at the interface between science and policy, both in relation to the environment and in relation to food safety and nutrition.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology