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Professor Innes Cuthill

Professor Innes Cuthill

Professor Innes Cuthill
M.A.(Cantab.), D.Phil.(Oxon.)

Professor of Behavioural Ecology

Area of research

Behavioural and sensory ecology

Office Life Sciences: 2B02
Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41175


I wear two hats, behavioural ecologist and sensory ecologist, although the unifying theme is the explanation of the factors shaping the design, through natural selection, of animal form and function. If I have particular skills then they are, first, developing novel empirical tests of theoretical predictions, whether in the lab or field, and second, establishing successful interdisciplinary collaborations. Most of my work lies at the interface of different disciplines, and I have a long history of working with mathematicians to investigate behavioural decisions. More recently, and my current main research area, I have been collaborating closely with physiologists, perceptual psychologists and computational neuroscientists to understand how animal coloration (notably camouflage) evolves in response to animal colour vision.





2008-2012              Head of School, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.

1998-present          Professor of Behavioural Ecology, University of Bristol.

1996-1998              Reader in Behavioural Ecology, University of Bristol.

1989-1996              Lecturer in Zoology (Behavioural Ecology), University of Bristol.

1985-1989              Concurrently: Junior Research Fellow, Brasenose College, Oxford; Departmental Demonstrator (in ornithology), Department of Zoology, Oxford University; College Lecturer in Biological Sciences, Brasenose College, Oxford; College Lecturer in Zoology, Exeter College, Oxford.

Academic Qualifications

 1985                       D.Phil. (Oxon.) Zoology. Pembroke College, Oxford. (Supervisors: Prof. J.R. Krebs & Dr. A. Kacelnik (titles as in 1985).

1982                       B.A. (Cantab.) Natural Sciences (Part II Zoology). First Class Honours. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Class I in Parts I & II of Tripos.

Special Awards, Honours and Distinctions

2007-2010              President, the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (the leading European professional association in the field)

2005                       Nature (Nature Publishing Group) and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) award for mentoring in science. First recipient of the ‘mid-career’ award for developing the careers of young scientists.

1998                       Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, for contributions to zoology by a scientist under 40 years old.

Activities / Findings

  • How camouflage and other forms of defensive coloration work
  • Comparative colour vision - why do different species see the world in different ways?
  • Computational methods for identifying animals ('biometric passports for animals')
  • Cooperation and conflict in avian parental care
  • How animals respond to changed environments (e.g. captivity, urban)
  • Learning, value judgement and risk-taking behaviour
  • Plus strong opinions on statistics training in biology!


I lecture in all 3 years of the degree programmes; this reflects my enjoyment of teaching as well as the popularity of the subject areas with our undergraduates. In brief, I lecture on Evolution (1st year),  Behavioural Ecology (2nd year and Unit Coordinator), Optimisation, Behaviour & Life-Histories (3rd year), yearly animal behaviour field course to Lundy Island (Unit Coordinator), 3-5 pairs of Honours project students per year, ca. 6 Honours library project students per year, tutorials in Psychology & Zoology (all 3 years).

Plus an advanced postgraduate statistics course (17h of lectures and problem classes) and stand-alone postgraduate lectures on 'collaboration', 'how to get published' and 'how science is funded and evaluated'.


  • Animal Behaviour
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Sensory Ecology
  • Vision
  • Animal Welfare
  • Evolutionary Biology


  • Computational methods
  • Behavioural measurement techniques
  • Spectrometry
  • statistical analysis
  • fieldwork

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Nick Scott-Samuel (University of Bristol)
  • Roland Baddeley (University of Bristol)
  • Julian Partridge (University of Bristol)
  • Dave Bull (University of Bristol)
  • Tilo Burghardt (University of Bristol)
  • Jakob Vinther (University of Bristol)
  • Neill Campbell (University of Bristol)
  • Alasdair Houston (University of Bristol)
  • John McNamara (University of Bristol)
  • Stephen Harris (University of Bristol)
  • Peter Barham (University of Bristol)
  • Mike Mendl (University of Bristol)
  • Liz Paul (University of Bristol)
  • Tamas Szekely (University of Bath)
  • Shinichi Nakagawa (University of Otago NZ)
  • George Lovell (University of St. Andrews)
  • Julie Harris (University of St. Andrews)
  • Graeme Ruxton (University of Glasgow)
  • Martin Stevens (University of Exeter)
  • Hannah Rowland (University of Cambridge)

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