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, from focused in on single species studies of specific behaviours, out to surveys documenting biodiversity at a site or landscape level.


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! Or see here for Paul's views on why studying behaviour at UNE is so rewarding.



Interested in a fully funded PhD stipend?

We currently have a PhD stipend and Top-up Scholarship available for a student to work with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust on assessing biodiversity using acoustic indices. This exciting opportunity is open to domestic students interested in using bioacoustics to remotely monitor woodland bird diversity. It is a great project for those who love spending time in the field doing survey work, and also want to help develop techniques in the lab that are in high demand at present across a range of industries and research fields.

See our Opportunities page and contact Paul for more details.




Lab News

  • Some good news from recent times:
    • Congratulations to Dr Farzaneh Etezadifar, Dr Geoffrey Hughes and Dr Jarrod Mesken, all of whom have successfully completed and obtained their PhD thesis recently! Well done to you both, and extra kudos to Dr Hughes graduating in a kilt! Look out for forthcoming publications from these projects in the coming months.
    • In more good news, Liam Phillips has handed in their Honours thesis, so again more exciting research updates to come.
    • On the job front Lucy Farrow has secured a three-year position lecturing in Neurobiology at UNE, well done Lucy, great to see you land your first academic gig!
    • Paul was interviewed by Moss Environmental for a podcast about birds, animal societies and zoology. Listen in here.


Below: A Chestnut-rumped Heathwren and a Red-necked Wallaby joey observed in the field near Invergowrie, just outside of Armidale.

For more information, contact Prof. Paul McDonald