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

Animal behaviour is an exciting research area that combines a range of informative disciplines, from natural history observation combined with field-based research, to using the latest technology in a finely controlled laboratory setting.


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

  • Obviously things have proven challenging across the globe as much of the world goes into lockdown in the fight against COVID-19. This has impacted research in the lab as research has had to be postponed and most of us have moved to a working from home arrangement. Hopefully things will be resolved soon, but in the meantime stay safe everyone, and continue to use email to contact lab members. In the meantime:
    •  New research has been published by Dr Han Hu in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. This research continues to build on Han's exploration of cranial evolution in specimens from non-avian dinosaurs through to modern birds. Check it out here!
    • 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 some rain and before fieldwork was postponed, we've had a good, late breeding season in many of our survey areas. Things are starting to turn cold though, as the song of this Superb Fairy-wren demonstrates. It would be fitting if she was letting every other wren in the area know that winter was coming!



For more information, contact Assoc. Prof. Paul McDonald