Dominic Cram

Dominic Cram

Postgraduate research student

Location Centre for Ecology and Conservation, Daphne du Maurier building, Cornwall Campus


2006, BA (Hons ) Biological Science, University of Oxford
2007, MSc Integrative Biosciences, University of Oxford

PhD thesis

Costs and Benefits of Cooperative Behaviour in a Wild Bird: the Role of Oxidative Stress




Dr Andrew Young, Dr Jonathan Blount

Research interests

I am interested in the mechanisms underpinning sexual selection and unusual breeding systems in animals. One such system is cooperative breeding, whereby a breeding pair is assisted by a number of ‘helpers.’ My PhD examines what benefits breeders gain when assisted, and the costs paid by 'helpers'. Oxidative stress is an exciting new candidate for mediating these costs and benefits. I will investigate links between variation in workload and an individual’s oxidative balance.  Workload can be experimentally altered during the breeding season using brood-size manipulations and handicapping techniques. I will also examine whether variation in oxidative stress can affect offspring through maternal effects, which may have important fitness consequences for future generations.
The white-browed sparrow weaver Plocepasser mahali is an ideal study system in which to research this at the project’s study site, the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa.


Cole E. F., Cram D. L., Hitchen S., Quinn J.L. (Submitted). Individual variation in spontaneous problem-solving performance among wild great tits