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

  • Some exciting new research emerging from ABEL recently, with:
    • Han Hu's excellent PNAS paper investigating avian morphology and evolution in early Cretaceous birds has been published. Han examined vomer shape and cranial kinesis in these species and compared this with dinosaurs and modern birds, see here for the paper. Han's study was also highlighted in the 'In This Issue' section of PNAS.
    • Continuing the morphology theme, Leah Tsang has had a paper examining differences in toe pad morphology between diurnal, nocturnal and non-predatory bird species accepted. Read about what makes a raptor foot special here.
    • Finally, another piece of the Noisy Miner puzzle has been uncovered thanks to Lucy Farrow's research, with her recently accepted paper determining that these birds not only send, but can attend to, individual information in aerial alarm calls. This very unusual finding will be out soon, but contact Lucy for all the details now.
  • Candice Larkin has successfully completed her PhD confirmation and is now a fully fledged PhD candidate, congratulations!
  • We will also welcome a new Postdoc into the lab early in 2020 who will be introduced soon!
  • Finally, Paul has taken on a new role, and is now Deputy Head of School for the School of Environmental and Rural Science here at UNE.



For more information, contact Assoc. Prof. Paul McDonald