Senior Lecturer in Biology, The Open University

I am a Behavioural Ecologist and my primary interest lies with animal communication and sexual selection. Much of my research has focused on vocal communication with an emphasis on behavioural investigations of intraspecific female mate choice in anuran amphibians (frogs and toads).

I also have an interest in fiddler crab reproductive behaviour and mate choice, the mating behaviour and male parental care in giant water bugs and duetting in birds.

I received my formal education in South Africa. My postgraduate work at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg focussed on breeding behaviour and communication in African frogs with emphasis on female mate choice in the African reed frog, Hyperolius marmoratus. After completing my PhD in 1988, I took up a postdoctoral position at the University of Natal in Durban working on reproductive behaviour and mate choice in the fiddler crab, Uca vocans. In 1993 I went to America where I worked on gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor and Hyla chrysoscelis) with Professor Carl Gerhardt at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. I then went to England where, in collaboration with Professor Tim Halliday and Dr Sarah Bush (The Open University), I worked on mate choice in Mojorcan midwife toads (Alytes muletensis). Before taking up the post as Lecturer at the Open University in 1995, I went to Germany for a year on a Humboldt Scholarship to work with Professor Georg Klump (Technische Universitat, Munich). My research involved using psychophysical tests to investigate auditory perceptual abilities of barn owls (Tyto alba).

On joining the OU in 1995, I continued my research on African reed frogs in South Africa and also took on a PhD students investigating the reproductive behaviour of the midwife toad, Alytes muletensis, microhabitat requirements of the great crested newt, Triturus cristatus and duetting behaviour in an African shrike, the bokmakierie (Telophorus zeylonus) and I am currently involved with a public engagement project monitoring bumblebees in floodplain meadows.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Biology, The Open University