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Dr Kate Lessells

Dr Kate Lessells

Honorary Research Fellow



I am a Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecologist interested in the selection pressures shaping a broad range of life-history characters including clutch size, mating systems, cooperative breeding, dispersal, oviposition strategies and sex allocation. My research has involved experimental studies, chiefly of wild bird populations, but also of laboratory populations of insects, and theoretical studies using optimality and game theory models.

Questions in this area are of interest for two important reasons: first, life-history characters such as oviposition strategies, larval competition strategies and dispersion will have an important impact on population dynamics. Second, life-history characters are subject to widespread evolutionary conflicts of interest, including sexual conflict and parent-offspring conflict, which can lead to the evolution of traits which are inexplicable when these conflicts of interest are not taken into account.


  • BA 1st class honours Zoology, University of Oxford
  • D.Phil., University of Oxford

Membership of learned societies

  • British Ecological Society
  • Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
  • British Ornithologists' Union
  • European Society of Evolutionary Biology
  • International Society for Behavioural Ecology
  • Dutch Society for Behavioural Biology


  • Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Tinbergen Lecturer, 2009
  • Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour,  ASAB Medal, 2016

Sample publications

Lessells, C. M. & McNamara, J.M. 2012. Sexual conflict over parental investment in repeated bouts: negotiation reduces overall care. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 279: 1506-1514.

Both, C., Bouwhuis, S., Lessells, C.M. & Visser, M.E. 2006. Climate change and population declines in a long-distance migratory bird. Nature 441: 81-83.

Visser, M.E., van Noordwijk, A.J., Tinbergen, J.M. & Lessells, C.M. 1998. Warmer springs lead to mis-timed reproduction in Great Tits (Parus major). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 265: 1867-1870.

My Google Scholar profile »



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