Jennions Group - Behavioural and reproductive ecology

We are a happy and extremely productive research group. We place a strong emphasis on creating a friendly working environment. If you thrive best in a winner takes all setting then we are not for you. If, however, you enjoy biology, like working with animals and find evolution fascinating then read on. We value and strive for research excellence. Ultimately scientists are evaluated on what they publish - avoid the hype and just check out our publications. If you are considering Honours, a PhD or Post-doc and want to produce high quality work with a view to pursuing a career in biology then please get in touch.

What do we do? We are interested in whole organism evolutionary biology, especially the evolution of behavioural and morphological reproductive traits. Our main focus is testing sexual selection theory. The kinds of questions we ask are:

  • Is there a trade-off between diets that maximize mating as opposed to fertilization success?
  • How does inbreeding affect sexually selected traits versus other traits?
  • Why do females mate multiply?
  • What affects the offspring sex ratio?
  • Are males more variable than females in their behaviour?
  • Does winning a fight increase your future likelihood of winning another fight?
  • Are older more succesful because they are more sexually experienced?
  • What determines the rate of sperm production? 

We conduct: behavioural ecology experiments, artificial selection studies, and meta-analysis of literature.

We use: immunological assays, diet manipulations, paternity analysis, and sperm assays.

We have conducted research on: fish, crickets, beetles, fiddler crabs, and humans.

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Picky females prefer well-fed males

Story | Wednesday 11 January 2012

ARC grant success

Story | Thursday 3 November 2011

Fiddler crabs offer safe sex for favours

Story | Wednesday 4 November 2009
Male Fiddler Crabs will quite happily protect a female neighbour, but do so partly in exchange for sex, according to a new study from The Australian National University.

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: Aquatic IQs: Fish cognition, its predictors, and adaptive value

Event | Thu 21 September 2023
Cognitive abilities underpin almost every animal behaviour and allow them to gather, store, process, and use information essential for survival and reproduction. Great variation in cognitive abilities exists not only between different species, but even across individuals from the same population.
Recorded EE Seminar - Joe Chung

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: The price of pleasure: How sex affects your body and your future

Event | Fri 28 April 2023
What is the meaning of life? … I’m afraid the answer is disappointingly simple: Mating. That’s it” written by the author Oliver Markus.
Recorded EE Seminar - Lauren Harrison

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: Sex and conflict: How competition shapes reproduction, behaviour and life-histories in various animals

Event | Fri 26 August 2022
Males compete against each other for female attention, for access to mating opportunities, and the sperm of multiple males can compete to fertilise a female’s eggs.
Recorded EE Webinar - Upama Aich

PhD Exit Webinar: Does age matter? Effects of age and mating history on male reproductive success

Event | Fri 29 October 2021
What is the effect of male age under sexual selection? Studies testing for age effects on reproduction have largely focused on female ageing and maternal effects, and the magnitude and direction of male age effects remain poorly understood.
Recorded EE Webinar -  Alex Chen

E&E PhD Exit Webinar: Get high with your weed: lessons from a tropical ‘seaweed-invertebrate-fish’ food chain

Event | Fri 8 October 2021
Canopy-forming seaweeds, generally brown macroalgae, are worldwide dominant primary producers and habitat constructors in our marine environments.
Recorded EE Webinar - Edwards

E&E Webinar: Wings, feathers, flight: the PhyloG2P approach to understanding bird biology

Event | Thu 1 October 2020
Scott Edwards is an acclaimed evolutionary biologist specialising in molecular evolution in birds. 
Recorded EE Webinar - Ritchie

E&E Webinar: Science Fictions: Some Cautionary Tales from the Replication Crisis

Event | Thu 20 August 2020
Why is there a Replication Crisis? That is, why are there so many findings in the published scientific literature that can't be replicated, or are exaggerated far beyond reality?