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 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.


Lombard effect onset times reveal the speed of vocal plasticity in a songbirdHardman, S., Zollinger, S. A., Koselj, K., Leitner, S., Marshall, R. & Brumm, H., 2017 , In : Journal of Experimental Biology.220, 6, p. 1065-10716 p.
Mechanisms and extent of information transfer in socially foraging guppies, Poecilia reticulataFranks, V. & Marshall, R. C., 2013 , In : Animal Behaviour.85, 1, p. 103-1086 p.
Degradation of rural and urban great tit song: testing transmission efficiencyMockford, E. J., Marshall, R. C. & Dabelsteen, T., 2011 , In : PLoS One.6, 12, e28242.
Colony kin structure and host-parasite relatedness in the barnacle gooseAnderholm, S., Waldeck, P., Van Der Jeugd, H. P., Marshall, R. C., Larsson, K. & Andersson, M., 2009 , In : Molecular Ecology.18, 23, p. 4955-49639 p.
Effects of urban noise on song and response behaviour in great titsMockford, E. J. & Marshall, R. C., 2009 , In : Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.276, 1669, p. 2979-29857 p.
More publications on the Research Portal