Dr Andrew Young
Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology
Daphne du Maurier 3043
Daphne du Maurier Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK
My research seeks to understand the evolution of social behaviour and its impact on life-histories, in particular patterns of ageing, using wild social vertebrates as model systems
My research group website can be found at www.animalsocieties.org
I am interested in the evolution of cooperation, conflict and dispersal in vertebrate societies and their implications for life-histories, particularly for patterns of senescence. I take an integrative approach, asking both evolutionary and mechanistic questions, given the potential for mechanistic insights to shed light on evolutionary constraints and the origins of variation. My work combines analyses of long-term life-history data with longitudinal and experimental studies of physiological mechanisms, such as endocrine and oxidative stress, and telomere dynamics. I am also interested in the evolution of mechanisms, particularly those that selection might not be expected to have favoured (e.g. the chronic stress response and the mechanisms of ageing). My work therefore spans the fields of behavioural, evolutionary and physiological ecology.
My research group work in all of these areas using a range of wild model systems, including white-browed sparrow weavers, Damaraland mole-rats, European badgers and banded mongooses. Do get in touch if you are interested in collaborating or joining the group.
My teaching portfolio reflects my research interests. In second-year Animal Ecophysiology we explore how adaptation has shaped physiological mechanisms and how key physiological processes may constrain and thereby explain evolutionary outcomes. In second-year Biology of Mammals I explore the origins, diversity and evolutionary consequences of mammalian sociality. And in our new third-year Costa Rica Fieldcourse, we explore the evolutionary origins and conservation of biodiversity while getting up close and personal with the spectacular natural history of the Neotropics.
My photography site can be found here www.wildimages.org
2003 PhD Zoology, University of Cambridge
1997 BA (Hons), University of Cambridge
2016- Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Exeter
2010-2016 BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, Exeter
2007-2010 NERC Blue Skies Research Fellow, Exeter
2004-2007 Magdalene College Research Fellow, Cambridge
2000-2003 PhD, Cambridge
* European Society for the Study of Evolution
* Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
* British Society for Research on Ageing
* American Society of Naturalists
* British Ecological Society
* Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
A white-browed sparrow weaver
My full research group website can be found at www.animalsocieties.org
I work at the interface between behavioural ecology and endocrinology, investigating both the evolution and hormonal regulation of behaviour in wild social vertebrates. This integrative approach is important because advances in our understanding of mechanism can inform the study of evolution. My interests are broad and include reproductive conflict, cooperation, parenting, dispersal and the distribution of stress within society. My group conduct research in each of these areas using three principle model systems - all cooperative vertebrates living in the Kalahari desert: white-browed sparrow weavers, Damaraland mole-rats and meerkats.
Social animals are typically embroiled in reproductive power struggles. We are investigating the diverse tactics that animals use to maximise their fitness given their position within society. Current interests include:
* Alternative reproductive tactics & extra-group paternity
* Stress and the suppression of subordinate reproduction
* The evolution of reproductive restraint
* The hormonal regulation of territorial aggression
Cooperation and Parenting
Members of society often differ markedly in their contributions to cooperative activities. We are investigating the evolutionary and mechanistic causes of this variation using cooperative parenting as a model. Current interests include:
* The hormonal regulation of cooperative and parental care
* Maternal and early-life effects on cooperative physiology and behaviour
* Oxidative stress and the costs and benefits of cooperation
* Offspring competition in cooperative breeders
Stress in Society
The most potent causes and mitigators of stress in social species include our interactions with our peers. As chronic stress can be costly, we are interested in the tactics that individuals employ to impose stress upon others and mitigate stress themselves. Current interests include:
* Stress in social hierarchies: causes and mitigation
* The evolution of stress-related reproductive suppression
* Stress and disease transmission in society
Social animals often experience strong constraints on their dispersal to independent breeding positions. We are investigating the tactics that social species employ to facilitate dispersal and reproduction in the face of such constraints. Current interests include:
* The evolution and benefits of social dispersal
* The evolution and hormonal regulation of extra-territorial prospecting
* Maternal & early life effects on prospecting and dispersal
I conduct research in each of the areas outlined above using three quite different model systems - all wild populations of cooperatively breeding vertebrates:
White-browed sparrow weavers
The white-browed sparrow weaver project was set up in 2007 with the support of a NERC fellowship. The project is based in Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa (www.tswalu.com) and follows the fates of 30+ cooperative groups of 2-10 birds. Current projects include investigating: the hormonal and developmental underpinnings of parental and cooperative care; the evolution and mechanistic underpinnings of territorial aggression and song in the tropics; and the role of oxidative stress in mediating the costs and benefits of cooperation. Collaborators include Jon Blount (Exeter), Ton Groothuis (Groningen) and Peter Sharp (Roslin Institute). Enquiries regarding collaborative research or opportunities to join the field team are welcome.
The mole-rat project was set up in 2003, also in Tswalu, in collaboration with Nigel Bennett (Pretoria). The project monitored the fates of 40 focal groups, ranging in size from 2-25 animals, over the course of the subsequent three years. The resulting life-history, morphometric and endocrine data are allowing us to address a range of questions about dispersal tactics, fitness benefits of helping, physiological suppression among subordinates, and morphological specialisation, as well as genetic studies of reproductive skew, extra-group paternity and body patterning. The field site remains accessible for future projects and research enquiries are welcome.
The meerkat project is a long-running study set up in 1993 by Tim Clutton-Brock (Cambridge). The project is based at the Kuruman River Reserve in South Africa, and has monitored the fates of 5-15 groups of meerkats for the past 17 years, yielding detailed longitudinal behavioural and life-history data sets. My research (starting with my PhD and through collaborative projects since) combines this information with behavioural-endocrine studies to investigate the tactics that dominants and subordinates employ to maximise their fitness. My work has focused in particular on reproductive power struggles among females and prospecting and dispersal among males.
Nigel Bennett - University of Pretoria, South Africa
Jon Blount - University of Exeter, UK
Mike Cant - University of Exeter, UK
Tim Clutton-Brock - University of Cambridge, UK
Ton Groothuis - Groningen, Netherlands
Steve Monfort - Conservation Research Center, Smithsonian Institution, USA
Peter Sharp - Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, UK
- 2011 Society for Endocrinology
Early Career Grant
- 2010 BBSRC
BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellowship
- 2010 University of Exeter Outward Mobility Fellowship
The endocrinology of alternative reproductive tactics
- 2009 Royal Society
Royal Society Research Grant
- 2007 NERC
Blue Skies Research Fellowship
- 2004 ASAB
- 2004 Magdalene College
- 2004 National Research Foundation
- 2003 Cambridge Philosophical Society
Publications by category
Publications by year
andrew_young Details from cache as at 2018-03-17 16:44:53
Research Council Responsibilities:
BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship (FLF) mentoring 2015-2018
Examination of PhDs:
F.J. De Haas van Dorsser, University of Cambridge, UK
J. Rabineau, University of Exeter, UK
H.J. Nichols, University of Cambridge, UK
N. Reed, University of Exeter, UK
J. Mangel, University of Exeter, UK
L. Grinsted, Aarhus Univeristy, Denmark
K.L. Edwards, University of Liverpool, UK
M. Paquet, CEFE CNRS Montpellier, France
Co-supervision of external PhDs:
Rafael Mares, University of Cambridge, UK
Jenny York, University of Bristol, UK
Adviser for external PhDs:
Emily Best, University of Queensland, Australia
Examination of Masters by Research:
A. Sibun, University of Bristol, UK
H. Williams, University of Exeter, UK
C. Christensen, University of Bristol, UK
International Society for Behavioural Ecology 2016
International Mammological Congress 2013
Refereeing for the following journals: Aging Cell, American Naturalist, Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology, Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, Biology Letters, Conservation Physiology, Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Hormones & Behavior, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Biodiversity Management & Forestry, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Journal of Zoology, Journal of Mammalogy, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Physiology & Behavior, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Refereeing for book publishers: Cambridge University Press
Reviewing research grants: Leverhulme Trust; Natural Environment Research Council UK; National Research Foundation South Africa
I have given invited seminars at 25 research institutions in the UK and overseas
Invited Keynotes & Public Engagement Lectures
2015 Ethological Society, Hamburg 'Sex differences in cooperation and ageing in wild social vertebrates'
2011 Zoological Society of London Communicating Science Series:
'Why be Nice? Understanding cooperative behaviour in humans & other animals'
2010 ASAB Easter Meeting 'From Hormones to Social Behaviour'
2009 Exeter 'Cooperation and Conflict in Wild Animal Societies'
2009 Social Interactions Conference in Neuchatel, Switzerland 'The Endocrinology of Social Behaviour'
2007 Biodemography of Ageing, Longevity and Sociality Workshop, Azores 'Ageing and Longevity in Cooperative Vertebrate Societies'
2006 ASAB Easter Meeting 'Non-invasive Endocrine Monitoring & its Application in Behavioural Research'
2004 Cambridge 'Meerkats, Mole-rats and Men: Cooperation in the Kalahari'
2002 Chicago Zoological Society 'Cooperation and Conflict in Meerkat Societies'
My research has attracted media coverage in 17 countries: National Geographic magazine, Scientific American, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, Nature, Science, Science News, Science Illustrated, CBS Radio (Canada), BBC Radio, I Fucking Love Science, Mail on Sunday, Quo, Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Die Press, Süddeutsche Zeitung and others.
My research photography has been published in: Nature, Science, BBC Wildlife, TREE, Natural History, The Daily Telegraph, Africa Geographic, Biology Letters, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Ethology, Hormones & Behavior, BBC Knowledge, Science Illustrated, Science News, Quo, World Birdwatch and in books by Orion and Cambridge University Press
I have provided scientific consultation for the BBC Natural History Unit, Oxford Scientific Films and Tigress Productions
Find out more as.exeter.ac.uk/aspire
My teaching portfolio reflects my research interests...
In second-year Animal Ecophysiology (BIO2427) we explore the interactions between evolution and mechanisms; both how adaptation has shaped physiological mechanisms and how key physiological processes may constrain and thereby explain evolutionary outcomes.
In second-year Biology of Mammals (BIO2431) I explore the origins, diversity and evolutionary consequences of mammalian sociality.
And in our new third-year Costa Rica Fieldcourse (BIO3414) we explore the evolutionary origins, assessment and conservation of biodiversity while getting up close and personal with the spectacular natural history of the Neotropics.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Chris Beirne (BBSRC Post-doctoral Research Associate) Mechanisms of senescence in wild social vertebrates
- Antony Brown (PhD 2017-21, Exeter) Cooperation and parental age effects in wild social vertebrates
- Faye Thompson (PhD 2013-17, Exeter, with Mike Cant) Dispersal, inter-group conflict and population dynamics in banded mongooses
- Lindsay Walker (PhD 2012-16, Exeter, with Nick Royle) Early life effects on parental and cooperative care in sparrow weaver societies
- Melanie Weedon (PhD 2017-21, Exeter) The evolution and mechanisms of ageing in wild European badgers
- Alice Williams (PhD 2014-2018, Exeter with Tom Currie) The evolution of sociopolitical complexity in humans
- Chris Beirne (PhD 2011-14, Exeter, with Dez Delahay of FERA)The mechanisms of senescence in wild European badgers
- Dominic Cram (PhD 2013) Load-lightening, oxidative stress and the evolution of avian cooperation
- Xavier Harrison (BBSRC Post-doctoral Research Associate) Patterns of parentage in sparrow weaver societies: cause and implications for mate choice, dispersal and cooperation
- Rafael Mares (PhD 2012) Extra-territorial prospecting and territory defence in cooperatively breeding meerkats
- Jenni Sanderson (PhD 2013) The regulation of cooperation and conflict in banded mongoose societies
- Faye Thompson (PhD 2017, Exeter, with Mike Cant) Dispersal, inter-group conflict and population dynamics in banded mongooses
- Lindsay Walker (PhD 2012-16, Exeter, with Nick Royle) Early life effects on parental and cooperative care in sparrow weaver societies
- Emma Wood (PhD 2017, Exeter) Causes and fitness consequences of telomere dynamics in a wild social bird
- Jenny York (PhD 2012) The regulation and function of dawn song in sparrow-weaver societies