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Dr Robert Thomas 

Photo of Dr Rob Thomas.

Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 76653
Fax:+44 (0)29 208 74116
Location:Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Research Overview

My research group studies animal behaviour in changing environments. The environmental changes that we study range from long-term climate changes, through seasonal and daily changes, to the sudden appearance of a potential predator or an unfamiliar type of food. This work falls under four main headings, though there is plenty of overlap between these topics.

1. Climate change biology –focusing on 3 major study systems that use migratory birds as sensitive bio-indicators of climate-driven changes in trophic relationships.

(i) The European Storm Petrel –the smallest Atlantic seabird

(ii) The Northern Wheatear –which has the most extreme trans-oceanic migration of any songbird

(iii) Reed-bed warblers (Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers) –a pair of congeneric migrants with contrasting migration strategies

2. Sensory constraints on behaviour

(i) Eye design in birds and visual constraints on behaviour

(ii) Impacts of light and noise pollution on wildlife

3. Dietary wariness and foraging ecology

(i) Novel-food wariness in birds and fish, and its evolutionary consequences

(ii) Strategic regulation of energy reserves in wild birds

4. Impacts of human activities on wild animals

(i) Impacts of capture and handling on birds and other animals

(ii) Practical conservation of populations, habitats and biodiversity hotspots in a changing world

(iii) Ecological impacts of eco-tourism

Current opportunities: please email me at for further information.

I am currently advertising two NERC PhD studentships:

  • Impacts of climate change on wetland birds; from individual behaviour to population change (based at Cardiff University, co-supervised by me, Ian Vaughan, Hefin Jones and Sean Rands)
  • Environmentally-determined social foraging behaviour in an agricultural pest species, the wood pigeon (based at the University of Bristol, co-supervised by Sean Rands, Christos Ioannou and myself)

I also have opportunities for gap-year and university students, as well as interested members of the public, to join research expeditions to Senegal (January 2014) and Portugal (May and June 2014)

Research Division

Organisms and Environment