Dr Rupert Marshall PhD

Dr Rupert Marshall

Reader in Animal Behaviour

Contact Details



Bird Song: evolution & function: Much of my research centres around avian communication. Why do birds sing? What response does song elicit in other birds? How & why do songs change over time? I am particularly interested in how signals adapt & change in response to both environmental & sexual selection pressures.

Urban behavioural adaptations: I am investigating how & why animals adapt their behavioural strategies in response to this background noise. For example, some birds sing at a higher pitch in noisy cities than they do in quieter rural areas. I am researching how these behavioural differences emerge, the role that learning plays in reinforcing these differences & the implications these changes have for conservation & biodiversity. This work includes the Nestbox Survey, involving regular monitoring of nearly 200 nest boxes in University woodlands by a team of student volunteers.

Social adaptation: the evolution of song dialects: Animals may adapt their behaviours for a variety of reasons including the need to fit in with their neighbours. For example, songs of corn buntings form a pattern of local dialects. I am investigating the role of social adaptation & dialects in signalling systems & the implications for these systems of changes to farming practice & population decline.

Social learning: information transfer within groups: Animals often learn new behaviours from other individuals, so knowing who to trust & when to act alone are important decisions. Using the University's aquarium facilities I am studying social learning in Guppies to investigate how animals decide who to learn from, as well as how they learn & how much they can learn from one another. This work also explores leadership, personality, rational choice & cooperation among individuals & groups.

If you are interested in working with me as a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow, please contact me.



Hardman, S., Zollinger, S.A., Koselj, K., Leitner, S., Marshall, R., Brumm, H. 2017. Lombard effect onset times reveal the speed of vocal plasticity in a songbird. Journal of Experimental Biology 220 (6) pp. 1065-1071. 10.1242/jeb.148734 Cadair


Franks, V., Marshall, R.C. 2013. Mechanisms and extent of information transfer in socially foraging guppies, Poecilia reticulata. Animal Behaviour 85 (1) pp. 103-108. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.10.013 Cadair


Mockford, E.J., Marshall, R.C., Dabelsteen, T. 2011. Degradation of rural and urban great tit song: testing transmission efficiency. PLoS One 6 (12) e28242 10.1371/journal.pone.0028242 Cadair


Anderholm, S., Waldeck, P., Van Der Jeugd, H.P., Marshall, R.C., Larsson, K., Andersson, M. 2009. Colony kin structure and host-parasite relatedness in the barnacle goose. Molecular Ecology 18 (23) pp. 4955-4963. 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04397.x Cadair

Mockford, E.J., Marshall, R.C. 2009. Effects of urban noise on song and response behaviour in great tits. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276 (1669) pp. 2979-2985. 10.1098/rspb.2009.0586 Cadair Other

Anderholm, S., Marshall, R.C., van der Jeugd, H.P., Waldeck, P., Larsson, K., Andersson, M. 2009. Nest parasitism in the barnacle goose: evidence from protein fingerprinting and microsatellites. Animal Behaviour 78 (1) pp. 167-174. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.04.011 Cadair


Nicholson, J., Buchanan, K., Marshall, R.C., Catchpole, C.K. 2007. Song sharing and repertoire size in the sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus: changes within and between years. Animal Behaviour 74 (5) pp. 1585-1592. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.04.006 Cadair

Marshall, R.C., Buchanan, K.L., Catchpole, C.K. 2007. Song and female choice for extrapair copulations in the sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. Animal Behaviour 73 (4) pp. 629-635. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2006.06.011 Cadair


Marshall, R.C. 2006. One small point. Nature 444 (7118) pp. 422. 10.1038/444422e Cadair