Welcome to the Animal Behaviour and Ecology Lab (ABEL) @UNE

Animal behaviour and ecology are exciting research areas that combine a range of informative disciplines, from natural history observation combined with field-based research, to using the latest technology in finely controlled laboratory settings.


Ultimately, researchers in this lab are interested in understanding both how and why animals behave the way that they do. We focus largely on birds, but research is conducted on whichever focal species is required to answer the question at hand.


This research has seen lab members tackle questions such as why animals might cooperate with each other, what information is contained and acted upon within acoustic signals, right through to how the behaviour of a species can impact the conservation and management of entire ecosystems. Our research can be entirely blue sky or linked to specific applied problems.


Regardless of the precise question, we believe that understanding the behaviour of an animal is critical to gaining a full picture of its ecology and biology.


See the above links to learn more about our Research, Members, Publications, the Botswanan Study Tour and ways that you can become involved!



Lab News

  • As we move through 2021 travel continues to be difficult, but most research projects are operating again. A new normal has settled in for how the lab operates. Some good news to start the year off:
    • New research has been published by Geoff Hughes in Herpetological Review. This research highlights a rather unexpected finding following assessment of the stomach contents of some Bell's Turtles. Check it out here!
    • More new research has been published by Lucy Farrow, who has published some neat work on methodological improvements to facilitate better understanding of brain structures in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods. Worth viewing for the scans alone, see here for the full paper.
    • In Lab Member news, we're pleased to have Dr Lori Hurley with us to help with Dr Julie Kern's work on Noisy Miner cooperation. We look forward to welcoming Emily Dickson to a new PhD project in 2021 as well.
    • We currently have a PhD position available in the lab. Dr Deborah Bower and I are looking for someone to help use bioacoustic data to develop biodiversity indices across several different projects and systems. If this highly sought after skill sounds like something that you want to investigate and help develop, and you are keen to work in both the lab and field, then have a look at the details here.
  • ...and, after years of drought, fire, and then the impacts of COVID-19, it has been great to see that we have had successful breeding of the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater on one of Candice Larkin's study sites.  While the first nest failed, the birds rebuilt and successfully fledged two young over the summer.

For more information, contact Prof. Paul McDonald