I am interested in the biological principles underlying the evolution of coloration in animals, and in understanding the ecological circumstances in which different types of external coloration arise in nature. Much of my research involves field work on three continents.
I study the adaptive significance of coloration in animals focusing on two taxonomic groups, mammals and decapods. In mammals I conduct research on the reasons that zebras have stripes, why giant pandas have black and white pelage, and why skunks are so variable in appearance. I also examine the evolutionary drivers of conspicuous coloration across all terrestrial mammals using phylogenetic comparative analyses. In crabs, I study colour polymorphisms in coconut crabs, and protective coloration within and across intertidal crab species.
I am also interested in conservation strategies in tropical ecosystems and I work with government authorities in Tanzania to find practical conservation solutions to exploitation and habitat alteration.
I have a continuing interest in finding links between animal behaviour and conservation biology.
1970s BA University of Cambridge; PhD University of St Andrews.
1980s Postdocs Serengeti Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania; Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, Cambridge; University of Michigan.
1990s Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor, University of California, Davis.
2000s Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award, UC Davis.
2010s Fellow of the Linnean Society of London; Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin (Convener of Focus Group on Animal Coloration); Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California.