Dr Rupert Marshall


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 anoth


Hardman, S, Zollinger, SA, 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, vol 220, no. 6, pp. 1065-1071. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.148734
Franks, V & Marshall, RC 2013, 'Mechanisms and extent of information transfer in socially foraging guppies, Poecilia reticulata' Animal Behaviour, vol 85, no. 1, pp. 103-108. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.10.013
Mockford, EJ, Marshall, RC & Dabelsteen, T 2011, 'Degradation of rural and urban great tit song: testing transmission efficiency' PLoS One, vol 6, no. 12, e28242. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028242
Anderholm, S, Waldeck, P, Van Der Jeugd, HP, Marshall, RC, Larsson, K & Andersson, M 2009, 'Colony kin structure and host-parasite relatedness in the barnacle goose' Molecular Ecology, vol 18, no. 23, pp. 4955-4963. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04397.x
Mockford, EJ & Marshall, RC 2009, 'Effects of urban noise on song and response behaviour in great tits' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 276, no. 1669, pp. 2979-2985. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0586
Anderholm, S, Marshall, RC, van der Jeugd, HP, Waldeck, P, Larsson, K & Andersson, M 2009, 'Nest parasitism in the barnacle goose: evidence from protein fingerprinting and microsatellites' Animal Behaviour, vol 78, no. 1, pp. 167-174. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.04.011
Nicholson, JS, Buchanan, KL, Marshall, RC & Catchpole, CK 2007, 'Song sharing and repertoire size in the sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus: changes within and between years' Animal Behaviour, vol 74, no. 5, pp. 1585-1592. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.04.006
Marshall, RC, Buchanan, KL & Catchpole, CK 2007, 'Song and female choice for extrapair copulations in the sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus' Animal Behaviour, vol 73, no. 4, pp. 629-635. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2006.06.011
Marshall, RC 2006, 'One small point' Nature, vol 444, no. 7118, pp. 422. DOI: 10.1038/444422e