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Dr. Andrew Jackson
Associate Professor, Zoology


My background is in zoology and ecology although I have always been interested in science more generally. My research interests lie in understanding ecological systems or processes from an evolutionary perspective which I tend to approach using computational / mathematical models. Traditionally, ecology is the study of the interactions between living organisms and their environment. During my Phd I focused on understanding interactions between individual animals living in close proximity which are determined by their behavioural rules. These rules are functions both of an individual's genotype and the local physical/ chemical/ biological environment. I am currently working on a diverse range of systems including vulture foraging, anti-predator behaviour in bird flocks and generating new statistical models for re-constructing food-webs.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Andolina, Cristina, Franzoi, Piero, Cavraro, Francesco, Jackson, Andrew L., Mazzola, Antonio, Vizzini, Salvatrice, Trophic adaptability shapes isotopic niche of the resident fish Aphanius fasciatus across lagoon habitats, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 264, 2022, p107685 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

Arnoldi, Jean"François, Barbier, Matthieu, Kelly, Ruth, Barabás, György, Jackson, Andrew L., Invasions of ecological communities: Hints of impacts in the invader's growth rate, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 13, (1), 2022, p167-182 Journal Article, 2022 DOI

JA Orr, P Luijckx, JF Arnoldi, AL Jackson, JJ Piggott, Rapid evolution generates synergism between multiple stressors: linking theory and an evolution experiment, Global Change Biology, 2021, p1 - 13 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Ross, S.R.P.J., Arnoldi, J.F., Loreau, M., White, C.D., Stout, J.C., Jackson, A.L. & Donohue, I., Universal scaling of robustness of ecosystem services to species loss, Nature Communications, 2, 2021, p5167 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

James A. Orr and Jeremy J. Piggott and Andrew L. Jackson and Jean-Fran{\c{c, Scaling up uncertain predictions to higher levels of organisation tends to underestimate change, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 12, (8), 2021, p1521--1532 Journal Article, 2021

Ruth Kelly, Kevin Healy, Madhur Anand, Maude E. A. Baudraz, Michael Bahn, Bruno E. L. Cerabolini, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, John M. Dwyer, Andrew L. Jackson, Jens Kattge, Ülo Niinemets, Josep Penuelas, Simon Pierce, Roberto Salguero"Gómez, Yvonne M. Buckley, Jonathan Levine, Climatic and evolutionary contexts are required to infer plant life history strategies from functional traits at a global scale, Ecology Letters, 24, (5), 2021, p970--983 Journal Article, 2021

Bortoluzzi, Jenny, Darby, Jamie, Jackson, Andrew L., Technological advances in stable isotope analysis provide ever more insights into animal ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, 90, (6), 2021, p1394-1397 Journal Article, 2021 DOI

Lucy Harding and Andrew Jackson and Adam Barnett and Ian Donohue and Lewis Halsey and Charles Huveneers and Carl Meyer and Yannis Papastamatiou and Jayson M. Semmens and Erin Spencer and Yuuki Watanabe and Nicholas Payne, Endothermy makes fishes faster but does not expand their thermal niche, Functional Ecology, 2021 Journal Article, 2021

Thomas Guillerme, Natalie Cooper, Stephen L. Brusatte, Katie E. Davis, Andrew L. Jackson, Sylvain Gerber, Anjali Goswami, Kevin Healy, Melanie J. Hopkins, Marc E. H. Jones, Graeme T. Lloyd, Joseph E. O'Reilly, Abi Pate, Mark N. Puttick, Emily J. Rayfield, Erin E. Saupe, Emma Sherratt, Graham J. Slater, Vera Weisbecker, Gavin H. Thomas, Philip C. J. Donoghue, Disparities in the analysis of morphological disparity, Biology Letters, 16, (7), 2020, p20200199 Journal Article, 2020

Andolina, C., Franzoi, P., Jackson, A.L., Mazzola, A., Vizzini, S., Vegetated Habitats Trophically Support Early Development Stages of a Marine Migrant Fish in a Coastal Lagoon, Estuaries and Coasts, 43, (2), 2020, p424-437 Journal Article, 2020 TARA - Full Text

Trueman, C.N., Jackson, A.L., Chadwick, K.S., Coombs, E.J., Feyrer, L.J., Magozzi, S., Sabin, R.C., Cooper, N., Combining simulation modeling and stable isotope analyses to reconstruct the last known movements of one of Nature's giants, PeerJ, 2019, (10), 2019 Journal Article, 2019

Qiang Yang, Mike S. Fowler, Andrew L. Jackson, Ian Donohue, The predictability of ecological stability in a noisy world, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3, (2), 2019, p251--259 Journal Article, 2019 DOI

Marshall, H.H., Inger, R., Jackson, A.L., McDonald, R.A., Thompson, F.J., Cant, M.A., Stable isotopes are quantitative indicators of trophic niche, Ecology Letters, 22, (11), 2019, p1990-1992 Journal Article, 2019 TARA - Full Text

Andrades, R., Jackson, A.L., Macieira, R.M., Reis-Filho, J.A., Bernardino, A.F., Joyeux, J.-C., Giarrizzo, T., Niche-related processes in island intertidal communities inferred from stable isotopes data, Ecological Indicators, 104, 2019, p648-658 Journal Article, 2019

Healy, Kevin, Carbone, Chris, Jackson, Andrew L., Snake venom potency and yield are associated with prey-evolution, predator metabolism and habitat structure, Ecology Letters, 2019 Journal Article, 2019 TARA - Full Text DOI

Stock,Brian C, Jackson,Andrew L, Ward,Eric J, Parnell,Andrew C, Phillips,Donald L, Semmens,Brice X, Analyzing mixing systems using a new generation of Bayesian tracer mixing models, PeerJ, 6, 2018, pe5096- Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Claudio Quezada-Romegialli, Andrew L. Jackson, Brian Hayden, Kimmo K. Kahilainen, Christelle Lopes, Chris Harrod, Nick Golding, tRophicPosition , an r package for the Bayesian estimation of trophic position from consumer stable isotope ratios, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2018 Journal Article, 2018

Sheppard, C. E., Inger, R., McDonald, R. A., Barker, S., Jackson, A. L., Thompson, F. J., Vitikainen, E. I. K., Cant, M. A., Marshall, H. H., Intragroup competition predicts individual foraging specialisation in a group-living mammal, Ecology Letters, 21, (5), 2018, p665-673 Journal Article, 2018

Healy, K., Guillerme, T., Kelly, S. B. A., Inger, R., Bearhop, S., Jackson, A. L., SIDER: an R package for predicting trophic discrimination factors of consumers based on their ecology and phylogenetic relatedness, Ecography, 41, (8), 2018, p1393-1400 Journal Article, 2018

Donohue, I., Petchey, O.L., Kéfi, S., Génin, A., Jackson, A.L., Yang, Q. & O'Connor, N.E., Loss of predator species, not intermediate consumers, triggers rapid and dramatic extinction cascades, Global Change Biology, 23, 2017, p2962 - 2972 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Abaigeal D. Jackson, Andrew L. Jackson, Godfrey Fletcher, Gerardine Doyle, Mary Harrington, Shijun Zhou, Fiona Cullinane, Charles Gallagher, Edward McKone, Estimating Direct Cost of Cystic Fibrosis Care Using Irish Registry Healthcare Resource Utilisation Data, 2008"2012, PharmacoEconomics, 35, (10), 2017, p1087--1101 Journal Article, 2017

Adam Kane, Kevin Healy, Thomas Guillerme, Graeme D. Ruxton, Andrew L. Jackson, A recipe for scavenging in vertebrates - the natural history of a behaviour, Ecography, 40, (2), 2017 Journal Article, 2017

Kane, Adam, Healy, Kevin, Ruxton, Graeme D., Jackson, Andrew L., Body Size as a Driver of Scavenging in Theropod Dinosaurs, The American Naturalist, 187, (6), 2016, p706-716 Journal Article, 2016 DOI URL

Kane, A., Jackson A.L., Monadjem, A., Colomer, M. A. & Margalida, A., Are vulture restaurants needed to sustain the densest breeding population of the African White-backed Vulture?, Animal Conservation, 12, (3), 2015, p279 - 286 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Silk, M.J., Croft, D.P., Jackson, A.L. & Bearhop, S. 2015., The consequences of unidentifiable individuals for the analysis of an animal social network, Animal Behaviour, 104, 2015, p1 - 11 Journal Article, 2015

Kane, A., Jackson, A. L., Monadjem, A., Colomer, M. A., Margalida, A., Carrion ecology modelling for vulture conservation: are vulture restaurants needed to sustain the densest breeding population of the African white-backed vulture?, Animal Conservation, 18, (3), 2015, p279-286 Journal Article, 2015 URL DOI

L.-A. Poissonnier, A. L. Jackson, C. J. Tanner, Cold and CO2 narcosis have long-lasting and dissimilar effects on Bombus terrestris, Insectes Sociaux, 62, (3), 2015, p291 - 298 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Healy, K. Finlay, S., Guillerme, T., Kane, A., Kelly, S.B.A., McClean, D., Kelly, D.J., Donohue, I., Jackson, A.L. & Cooper, N., Ecology and mode-of-life explain lifespan variation in birds and mammals, Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, 281, (1784), 2014, p20140298 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Kane, A., Jackson, A.L., Ogada, D.L., Monadjem, A. & McNally, L., Vultures acquire information on carcass location from scavenging eagles, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 281, (1793), 2014, p20141072- Journal Article, 2014 TARA - Full Text

Mouchi, V., Crowley, Q.G., Jackson, A.L., McDermott, F., Monteys, X., de Rafélis, M., Luis Rueda, J. Lartaud, F., Potential seasonal calibration for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction using skeletal microstructures and strontium measurements from the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa, Journal of Quaternary Science, 29, (8), 2014, p803-814 Journal Article, 2014 DOI TARA - Full Text

Phillips, D.L., Inger, R., Bearhop, S., Jackson, A.L., Moore, J., Parnell, A.C., Semmens, B.X. & Ward, E.J., Best practices for use of stable isotope mixing models in food web studies, Canadian Journal of Zoology, 92, (10), 2014, p823 - 835 Journal Article, 2014 DOI TARA - Full Text

Viana, M., McNally, L., Graham, N., Reid, D. & Jackson, A.L., Discard data is a more accurate estimate of fishing impact than landing data, Biology Letters, 9, (6), 2013, p20130812- Journal Article, 2013

Viana M, McNally L, Graham N, Reid DG, Jackson AL, Ignoring discards biases the assessment of fisheries' ecological fingerprint., Biology letters, 9, (6), 2013, p20130812 Journal Article, 2013 DOI TARA - Full Text

Healy K, McNally L, Ruxton GD, Cooper N, Jackson AL, Metabolic rate and body size are linked with perception of temporal information., Animal behaviour, 86, (4), 2013, p685-696 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text DOI

Semmens, B.X., Ward, E.J., Parnell, A.C., Phillips, D.L., Bearhop, S., Inger, R., Jackson, A.L., Moore, J.W., Statistical bias and outputs of stable isotope mixing models: Comment on Fry (2013), Marine Ecology Progress Series, 490, 2013, p285 - 289 Journal Article, 2013 URL

McNally L, Jackson AL, Cooperation creates selection for tactical deception., Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280, (1762), 2013, p20130699 Journal Article, 2013 DOI TARA - Full Text

Wakefield, E.D., Bodey, T.W., Bearhop, S., Blackburn, J., Colhoun, K., Davies, R., Dwyer, R.G., (...), Hamer, K.C., Space Partitioning Without Territoriality in Gannets, Science, 341, (6141), 2013, p68 - 70 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Donohue, I., Petchey, O.L., Montoya, J.M., Jackson, A.L., McNally, L., Viana, M., Healy, K., Lurgi, M., O'Connor, N.E. & Emmerson, M.C., On the dimensionality of ecological stability, Ecology Letters, 16, (4), 2013, p421-429- Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Parnell, A.C., Phillips, D.L., Bearhop, S., Semmens, B.X., Ward, E.J., Moore, J.W., Jackson, A.L. & Inger, R., Bayesian stable isotope mixing models, Environmetrics, 24, (6), 2013, p387 - 399 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text DOI

Viana, M., Jackson, A.L., Graham, N. & Parnell, A.C. , Disentangling spatio-temporal processes in a hierarchical system: a case study in fisheries data, Ecography, 36, (5), 2013, p569 - 578 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Jackson, M.C., Donohue, I., Jackson, A.L., Britton, J.R., Harper, D.M. & Grey, J., Population-level metrics of trophic structure based on stable isotopes and their application to invasion ecology, PLOS ONE, 7, 2012, pe31757 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Tanner, C.J., & Jackson, A.L, Social structure emerges via the interaction between local ecology and individual behavior., Journal of Animal Ecology, 81, (1), 2012, p260 - 267 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

McNally, L., Brown, S.P. & Jackson, A.L., Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 279, 2012, p3027 - 3034 Journal Article, 2012 TARA - Full Text DOI

Tanner, C. J., Jackson, A. L., The combination of social and personal contexts affects dominance hierarchy development in shore crabs, Carcinus maenas, Animal Behaviour, 82, (5), 2011, p1185-1192 Journal Article, 2011 URL DOI

Dermody, B., Tanner, C.J. & Jackson, A.L., The evolutionary pathway to obligate scavenging in Gyps vultures, PLoS ONE, 6, (9), 2011, pe24635- Journal Article, 2011 TARA - Full Text

Tanner, C.J., Salalı, G.D. & Jackson, A.L., Feeding and non-feeding aggression can be induced in invasive shore crabs by altering food distribution, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65, (2), 2011, p249 - 256 Journal Article, 2011 DOI URL

Jackson, A.L., Parnell, A.C., Inger R., & Bearhop, S., Comparing isotopic niche widths among and within communities: SIBER - Stable Isotope Bayesian Ellipses in R., Journal of Animal Ecology, 80, 2011, p595 - 602 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Tanner, C. J., Salali, G. D., Jackson, A. L., The ghost of social environments past: dominance relationships include current interactions and experience carried over from previous groups, Biology Letters, 7, (6), 2011, p818-821 Journal Article, 2011 DOI URL

Jackson, A.D., Daly, L., Jackson, A.L., Kelleher, C., Marhsall, B.C., Quinton, H.B., Fletcher, G., Harrington, M., Zhou, S., McKone, E.F., Gallagher, C., Foley, L. & Fitzpatrick, P., Validation and use of a parametric model for projecting cystic fibrosis survivorship beyond observed data: a birth cohort analysis, Thorax, 66, 2011, p674 - 679 Journal Article, 2011 TARA - Full Text

Jones, K., Jackson, A.L. & Ruxton, G.D., Prey jitters; protean behaviour in grouped prey, Behavioral Ecology, 22, (4), 2011, p831 - 836 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Viana, M., Graham, N., Wilson, J.G. & Jackson, A.L., Fisheries discards in the Irish Sea exhibit temporal oscillations and trends reflecting underlying processes at an annual scale, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 68, (1), 2011, p221 - 227 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Inger, R., McDonald, R. A., Rogowski, D., Jackson, A. L., Parnell, A., Preston, S. J., Harrod, C., Goodwin, C., Griffiths, D., Dick, J. T. A., Elwood, R. W., Newton, J., Bearhop, S., Do non-native invasive fish support elevated lamprey populations?, Journal of Applied Ecology, 47, (1), 2010, p121-129 Journal Article, 2010 URL DOI

Jackson, A. D., Daly, L., Jackson, A. L., Harrington, M., Zhou, S., Kelleher, C., Fitzpatrick, P., Foley, L., Using new techniques to estimate cystic fibrosis survival in the republic of Ireland, Irish Journal of Medical Science, 179, 2010, p445 Journal Article, 2010

Patrick Kirwan, Andrew L Jackson, Samuel O Asaolu, Sile F. Molloy, Titilayo C Abiona, Marian C Bruce, Lisa Ranford-Cartwright, Sandra M O'Neill and Celia V Holland, Impact of repeated four-monthly anthelmintic treatment on Plasmodium infection in preschool children: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial, BMC Infectious Diseases, 10, (277), 2010, part. no. 277 Journal Article, 2010 TARA - Full Text DOI

Jackson AL, Davies CA, Leyland AH, Do differences in the administrative structure of populations confound comparisons of geographic health inequalities?, BMC medical research methodology, 10, (1), 2010, p74 Journal Article, 2010 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Parnell AC, Inger R, Bearhop S, Jackson AL, Source partitioning using stable isotopes: coping with too much variation., PloS one, 5, (3), 2010, pe9672 Journal Article, 2010 DOI URL

Jackson, A. L., Inger, R., Bearhop, S., Parnell, A., Erroneous behaviour of MixSIR, a recently published Bayesian isotope mixing model: a discussion of Moore & Semmens (2008), Ecology Letters, 12, (3), 2009, pE1-E5 Journal Article, 2009 DOI URL

Donohue, I., Jackson, A.L., Pusch, M.T. & Irvine, K., Nutrient enrichment homogenizes lake benthic assemblages at local and regional scales, Ecology, 90, 2009, p3470 - 3477 Journal Article, 2009 DOI

Kirwan, P., Asaolu, S.O., Molloy, S.F., Abiona, T.C., Jackson, A.L., Holland, C.V., Patterns of soil-transmitted helminth infection and impact of four-monthly albendazole treatments in preschool children from semi-urban communities in Nigeria: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial., BMC Infectious Disease, 9, (20), 2009 Journal Article, 2009 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Kirwan, P., Asaolu, S.O., Molloy, S.F., Abiona, T. C., Jackson, A.L. & Holland, C.V., Soil-transmitted helminth infections in Nigerian children aged 0-25 months, Journal of Helminthology, 83, 2009, p261 - 266 Journal Article, 2009 TARA - Full Text

Jackson, A.L., Broderick, A.C., Fuller, W.J., Glen, F., Ruxton, G.D., Godley, B.J. , Sampling design and its effect on population monitoring: how much monitoring do turtles really need?, Biological Conservation, 141, (12), 2008, p2932 - 2941 Journal Article, 2008 DOI

Jackson, A.L., Ruxton, G.D. & Houston, D.C., The effect of social facilitation on foraging success in vultures: a modelling study, Biology Letters, 4, (3), 2008, p311 - 313 Journal Article, 2008 DOI

Jackson, A. L., O'Neill, H., Maree, F., Blignaut, B., Carrillo, C., Rodriguez, L., Haydon, D. T., Mosaic structure of foot-and-mouth disease virus genomes, Journal of General Virology, 88, 2007, p487-492 Journal Article, 2007 URL DOI URL

Tosh, C.R.T., Jackson, A.L. & Ruxton, G.D., Individuals from different-looking animal species may group together to confuse shared predators: simulations with artificial neural networks, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 274, (1611), 2007, p827 - 832 Journal Article, 2007 DOI

Ruxton, G.D., Jackson, A.L. & Tosh, C.R., Confusion of predators does not rely on specialist coordinated behaviour, Behavioral Ecology, 18, (3), 2007, p590 - 596 Journal Article, 2007 DOI

Inger R., Ruxton G.D., Newton J., Colhoun K., Robinson J.A., Jackson A.L. & Bearhop S., Temporal and intra-population variation in prey choice of wintering geese determined by stable isotope analysis, Journal of Animal Ecology , 75, (5), 2006, p1190 - 1200 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Tosh, C.R.T., Jackson, A.L. & Ruxton, G.D., The confusion effect in predatory neural networks, American Naturalist , 167, 2006, pE52 - E65 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

A.C. Broderick, R. Frauenstein, T. George, F. Glen, G.C. Hays, A.L. Jackson, G. D. Ruxton & B.J. Godley. , Are Green Turtles Globally Endangered? , Global Ecology and Biogeography, 15, 2006, p21 - 26 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Jackson, A.L., Beauchamp, G., Broom, M. & Ruxton, G.D. , Evolution of anti-predator traits in response to a flexible targeting strategy by predators, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 273, 2006, p1055 - 1062 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Jackson, A. L., Davies, C. A., Leyland, A. H., How do differences in the population size of administrative regions between European countries affect geographic inequalities in mortality rates?, European Journal of Public Health, 16, 2006, p181 Journal Article, 2006

Jackson, A.L. & Ruxton, G.D. , Towards an individual-level understanding of vigilance: the role of public information., Behavioral Ecology , 17, (4), 2006, p532 - 538 Journal Article, 2006 DOI

Krause J., Ward A.J.W., Jackson A.L., Ruxton G.D., James, R. and Currie, S., The influence of differential swimming speeds on composition of multi-species fish shoals, Journal of Fish Biology , 67, 2005, p866 - 872 Journal Article, 2005 DOI

Jackson, A. L., Brown, S., Sherratt, T. N., Ruxton, G. D., The effects of group size, shape and composition on ease of detection of cryptic prey, Behaviour, 142, 2005, p811-826 Journal Article, 2005 URL URL DOI

Jackson, A.L., Thompson, D.R. & Bearhop, S. , Shape can influence the rate of colony fragmentation in ground nesting seabirds, Oikos, 111, 2005, p473 - 478 Journal Article, 2005 DOI

Jackson, A.L., Humphries, S. & Ruxton, G.D., Resolving the departures of observed results from the Ideal Free Distribution with simple random movements, Journal of Animal Ecology , 73, 2004, p612 - 622 Journal Article, 2004 DOI

Jackson, A.L., Ranta, E., Lundberg, P., Kaitala, V. & Ruxton, G.D. , Consumer - resource matching in a food chain when both predators and prey are free to move, Oikos , 106, 2004, p445 - 450 Journal Article, 2004 DOI

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Kevin Healy, Seán B.A Kelly, Thomas Guillerme & Andrew Jackson, 'SIDER: Stable Isotope Discrimination Estimation in R', Github, Github, 2017, - Software, 2017 URL

Brice Semmens, Brian Stock, Eric Ward, Andrew Parnell, Donald Phillips, & Andrew Jackson., 'MixSIAR', Github, 2016, - Software, 2016 URL URL DOI

Jackson, A.L. & Parnell, A.C., 'SIBER', CRAN and GitHub, 2015, - Software, 2015 URL URL

Parnell, A.C. & Jackson, A.L., siar: Stable Isotope Analysis in R, 2009, - Software, 2009 URL

Research Expertise


My broad research topic is ecology and evolution, and specifically theoretical ecology. I am interested in how interactions between individual organisms of the same and different species generate macroscopic patterns we observe as ecosystems or food-webs. I have a developed a research group that is a leader in quantitative ecology in Ireland and with demonstrable global impact and renown with a portfolio of highly cited research papers in top journals. Several graduates from my lab have set up their own successful groups as PIs in internationally recognised institutions. The current focus of my research is a four-year project funded by the Irish Research Council which aims to develop a new set of quantitative tools that will allow us to maximise our ability to monitor and predict the response of ecosystem food-webs to a world that is changing and ever more managed or impacted by societies. A food-web in some senses is simple: it describes how energy and biomass flows up from primary producers (plants) through to consumers and up to higher level predators. The challenge is to manage better these systems on which we rely for health and wealth. My project is developing dynamic mathematical models to generate food-webs of various structure and behaviour, and coupled with new statistical models that might allow us to monitor these systems in the real world. We have recently identified new links between empirical data and fundamental properties of food-webs that will allow us to change the way we monitor and manage ecosystems. I am currently using this new research momentum to help mentor new junior colleagues and to win further funding by using the outputs to solve real world problems in marine ecosystems with a particular focus on large marine predators and ecosystem based fisheries management.


  • Title
    • Linking ecological processes to community patterns using stable isotopes
  • Summary
    • Novel methods to quantify differences in community structure: development of stable isotope metrics in a Bayesian framework. There is an overwhelming need for the ability to accurately and rapidly quantify the trophic niches of species within their ecological communities. A holistic approach which takes account of the multidimensional and variable nature of interactions within and among species and with the wider ecosystem as a whole is required to meet this challenge. In recent years, stable isotope techniques have revolutionised the study of trophic ecology. However, although they also hold much promise for the elucidation and description of trophic structure, we lack the mathematical tools that will allow us to make quantitative comparisons of these structures. The main aim of this project is to develop novel methods for describing the structure of ecological communities. These "isotopic community metrics" will be based on established stable isotope methods (Layman et al 2007a, Layman et al 2007b), but will be underpinned by a statistically robust quantitative framework. The newly-developed models will allow us to compare different communities directly and in an ecologically relevant manner, for instance before and after a disturbance such as species invasion, eutrophication or climate change. Equally, the niche width of organisms is inherently tied to their diversification and ultimately their speciation, giving this project an additional evolutionary aspect.
  • Funding Agency
    • HEA
  • Date From
    • 2011
  • Date To
    • 2015
  • Title
    • How Conflict and Cooperation Shape the Evolution of Social Behaviour: From Individual Interactions to Group Structure
  • Funding Agency
    • IRCSET
  • Date From
    • 2010
  • Date To
    • 2013
  • Title
    • The evolution and maintenance of cooperative behaviour
  • Summary
    • The evolution and maintenance of cooperative behaviour is central to our understanding of biological systems, from gene/protein interaction networks, to bacterial colonies, all the way up to complex societies such as human civilisation and its components such as financial markets. The fundamental challenge to understanding these systems is how cooperation emerges and is retained when evolutionary pressure will drive individual components to selfishly cheat on their honest counter-parts. Ultimately, such cheating or defection is predicted to lead to collapse and failure of the higher level functioning of the group. It is quite clear that human society has developed mechanisms such as judiciary concepts involving policing and punishment for keeping cheaters at a tolerably low level within the group. What is entirely unclear is how our society developed in the first place, or how apparently more primitive systems lacking higher level cognitive abilities or recourse to emergent legislative judiciary can moderate against invasion by cheaters. The main research method of this project will be the creation of detailed mathematical and computational models of cooperative systems. The models will be novel in their approach by combining artificial neural networks, game theory and genetic algorithms to determine the cognitive and/or non-cognitive requirements necessary for effective policing. The models will also incorporate spiteful interactions between individuals and differences in competitive abilities between these individuals to investigate how these factors affect cooperation. Supplementary to these models, public goods games will be carried out with students in order to elucidate the principles underlying cooperation and policing in financial markets in particular.
  • Funding Agency
    • IRCSET
  • Date From
    • Oct 2009
  • Date To
    • Sep 2012
  • Title
    • The Ecological Implications of Context Dependent Aggression in Urban Environments
  • Summary
    • Ecosystems across the globe are becoming progressively more urbanized (United Nations 2006), as humans present an increasingly formidable evolutionary force on the rest of the planet (Palumbi 2001). Therefore, the effects of urbanization are becoming increasingly important on a global scale (Grimm et al. 2008). Urbanization is known to have remarkable effects on ecosystem form and function, as well as on species' distributions and abundances (Alberti 2005; Shochat et al. 2006). Relatively little, however, is known about what effect urbanization has on the behaviors of interacting species. For example, urbanization is known to alter community composition through the introduction of new species (Holway & Suarez 2006), and such changes are in part due to the behavioural differences between species (Holway & Suarez 1999), yet there is no clear evidence for how urbanization affects the behaviours of species (native or exotic). This project used shore crabs (Carcinus maenas) as a model system in which to study the complex competitive interactions that arise in urban-like systems.
  • Funding Agency
    • SFI
  • Date From
    • Jun 2009
  • Date To
    • Aug 2009
  • Title
    • Individual and Group Aggressive Behaviour in Social Organisms
  • Summary
    • Aims 1) Develop mathematical and computational models to investigate how aggressive group behaviour during a competitive interaction between cooperative social organisms (e.g. ants) emerges from the information transfer between individuals using context-dependent behavioural rules. 2) Extend models to include social organisms with intra-group competing interests in addition to between-group competition (e.g. bumblebees). 3) Develop empirical laboratory and field experiments to test individual behavioural rules and mechanisms of information transfer, as well as model assumptions and predictions.
  • Funding Agency
    • IRCSET
  • Date From
    • 01/12/2008
  • Date To
    • 31/11/2010
  • Title
    • Spatial and temporal trends in discarding practices of the Irish Sea demersal trawl fishery - application in discard mitigation plans
  • Summary
    • Discarding from fishing has a negative impact on fish stocks and on the supporting ecosystems, yet under the Data Collection Programme (DCP) (EU Council Regulation 1543/2000), the sampling of discards is less than 1% (Borges et al., 2004; 2005). This paucity of data is hinders attempts to accurately determine the extent of discarding and hence understand its subsequent impacts. The project will enhance the utility of the information being gathered in these programmes and will be used to (i) improve precision in discard estimates, (ii) describe the principal causes of discards derived from fisheries' tacit knowledge, and (iii) quantify the effectiveness of technical measures at a stock level. This will ultimately culminate in the quantification of spatial and temporal trends of discarding in the Irish Sea, describe the principal causes and provide a structured framework to compare and contrast various management options to mitigate discards through a range of technical conservation measures.
  • Funding Agency
    • Marine Institute
  • Date From
    • Oct 2008
  • Date To
    • Mar 2012
  • Title
    • Evolution of Skeletal Form and Function
  • Summary
    • The vertebrate skeletal system provides a fascinating system in which structural form of a load bearing bone such as the human femur is determined by a combination of genetic and epigenetic factors such as mechanical forces. How these determinants of form allow the physical structures to become adapted to their specific function over phylogenetic (between generations) and ontogenetic (within generations) time scales is one of the fundamental questions in biology. I am working as part of a larger group that seeks to better understand the genetic and mechanobiological determinants of bone development and remodelling using a variety of computational and experimental methods.
  • Funding Agency
    • IRCSET
  • Date From
    • Nov 2006
  • Date To
    • Nov 2008
  • Title
    • Foraging Ecology and Conservation of the vulture Gyps africanus
  • Summary
    • Scavengers play a key role in ecosystems by feeding on the remains of other animals (Sodhi and Ehrlich 2010). This is mainly due to their maintenance of food webs by recycling energy; however by removing decaying carcasses they can also prevent the spread of disease (Sekercioglu 2006). In the ability to fly, birds possess an advantage that lends itself to a scavenging lifestyle. This ability allows them to cover great distances in the search for carcasses relative to terrestrial animals. Consequently numerous birds have convergently evolved to be scavengers with vultures the only obligate scavenging vertebrates (Ruxton and Houston 2004; Sekercioglu 2006). This project will study the foraging ecology of Gyps africanus in Swaziland in order to better understand how conservation efforts have the maximum impact.
  • Funding Agency
    • Trinity College Dublin
  • Date From
    • September 2011
  • Date To
    • August 2014


Animal Behaviour; Behavioural and evolutionary ecology; Bioengineering; Biological Modeling; Biomechanics, Biomedical Engineering; Cognitive Development/Processes; Comparative/Animal Psychology; COMPUTER MODELING AND SIMULATION; Computer Modelling; COMPUTER SIMULATION; COMPUTER SIMULATIONS; Developmental biology; Ecological Modelling; Ecology; ECOSYSTEM; ECOSYSTEMS; Evolution; Evolutionary Biology; Mathematical Modelling; Morphology; Population Biology; Theoretical Ecology; THEORY & MODELLING; Zoology



I sat on the expert panel for ecology and evolution for the Norwegian Institute for Science 2013-2015. This involves reviewing approximately 28 proposals and sitting on a panel discussion to rank them over 3 days in Oslo. I have also reviewed grants for NERC UK, Leverhulme 2015

Associate Editor for the British Ecological Society's international peer-reviewed Journal of Animal Ecology (impact factor 4.5). 2018

Associate editor for Elsevier's journal Food Webs (cite score 4.0) 2018

Awards and Honours

Fulbright Scholarship June 2017

Research Scholarship (PhD) - University of Glasgow 2002-2005

MacRobertson Travel Scholarship - University of Glasgow / University of Strathclyde Sept 2004


Fellow, Trinity College Dublin - an academic honour awarded for "scholarship or research achievement of a high order" 2012 – present

British Ecology Society member 2006 – Present

Irish Ecological Association member 2015 – Present