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, through to using the latest technology in finely controlled laboratory settings to monitor small details.


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, and cover a range of taxa.


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 conditions continue to be difficult, as they are around the world, but thankfully most research projects have been able to operate on some capacity, although restrictions and mini-lockdowns continue to come and (hopefully) go. A new normal has settled in for how the lab operates, with a mixture of zoom and face-to-face meetings being the norm now. Some good news from recent times:
    • The lab has welcomed two new members this year, with Emily Dickson beginning a project looking at cattle welfare, and Liam Phillips exploring the impact of small-scale culling of Noisy Miners. Welcome guys!
    • Some big news with recent PhD theses being handed in by both Farzaneh Etezadifar and Jarrod Mesken, congratulations to you both! Hot on their heels are Lucy Farrow and Geoff Hughes, who are both also very close to handing in as I type... For details on these projects see here.
    • More publication news with papers on the Australian Acoustic Observatory coming out, and more research from Ahmad Barati on the impacts of nestling sex on the cooperative provisioning dynamics of Noisy Miners.
    • The lab has been in the news of late, with stories covering our work on owls in the region airing on regional news and as part of owl and national science week the launch of 'Hoot Detective', where citizen scientists can use the data from the A2O to search for sounds of our owl species. See here to give it a go, and you just might win yourself a pair of binoculars!

For more information, contact Prof. Paul McDonald