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Professor Innes Cuthill

Behavioural and sensory ecology

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.



Research keywords

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

Research methods

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

Research equipment

  • Spectrometers
  • calibrated digital cameras
  • automated behaviour recording equipment
  • Matlab
  • R

Research 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!


  • 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)