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Associate Professor Therésa Jones

Principal Investigator

My main area of research is in the field behavioural ecology with a particular focus on understanding the causes and consequences of variability in mating systems, the role of chemical cues, and most recently the impact of artificial night lighting on individual fitness and community structure. I completed my undergraduate at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (UK) and my PhD at the Institute of Zoology (UK). During my PhD, I spent a year at the Instituto Evandro Chagas in Belém, Brazil carrying out field observations and experiments. I commenced postdoctoral research in 1999 at Uppsala University (Sweden) exploring alternative male mating strategies in vertebrate (the ruff, Philomachus pugnax) and invertebrate (Hawaiian Drosophila) lekking species. In 2001, I was awarded a Royal Society Travelling Fellowship to conduct research at the University of Melbourne where I have worked since, first as a postdoctoral research fellow with Prof Mark Elgar for six years and then as a Melbourne University Research Career Interruption Fellow. I am currently employed as a senior lecturer in the School of BioSciences. In addition to my passion for behavioural ecology, I am a strong advocate for gender equality in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Twitter: @ubanlightlab

Dr Kathryn McNamara


I was awarded my PhD in 2008 from the University of Melbourne. In 2010, I commenced a Fellowship at Monash University and then took up an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Western Australia. I am currently an ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Melbourne. My primary area of research has been in the field of ecological immunology, sexual selection and chemical communication. My interest in the insect microbiome is a natural extension of these interests. My research is characterised by large-scale, hypothesis-driven experimental studies which examine the complex phenotypic and genetic relationship between immunity, condition, and reproduction. My work incorporates cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary techniques in invertebrate immunology and reproductive fitness assays.


Tom Keaney (PhD)

Mothers curse – intra-genomic conflict in Drosophila melanogaster

I am in the second year of my PhD working with Dr Luke Holman and Associate Professor Theresa Jones on my thesis, Sex as a prophylactic against extinction. I work mostly in the lab (although I’d like to get out into the field at some point), using insect species as models to investigate how evolutionary forces like sexual selection affect the fitness and persistence of animal populations. I hope to help answer some longstanding questions in evolutionary biology, such as why sex evolved and how it’s become so prevalent, and how adaptation might be able to protect species from extinction.s of ALAN over successive generations of Drosophila using a range of behavioural and physiological assays.

PhD Supervisors: Therésa Jones and Dr Luke Holman

Twitter: @tom_is_kean

Nik Wilmott (PhD)

Impacts of artificial light at night on the day-night behaviour of urban birds

After completing my Master of Science (Biosciences) at The University of Melbourne investigating the impacts of artificial light at night on a nocturnal orb-weaving spider, I have commenced a PhD studying the interacting effects of artificial light at night and pesticides on the development, physiology, and foraging behaviour of spiders. During the 2020/2021 summer, I will collect female jumping spiders and rear their offspring, exposing spiders to artificial light at night and/or pesticides to determine effects on life history. I will measure effects on their learning and associated neuroanatomy, which can be an indication of the ability of spiders to cope with rapidly changing environments and resources. I will also investigate effects on traits relating to predation, including leg morphology, running speed, and venom potency, all of which are important predictors of predation success in jumping spiders.

PhD Supervisors: Therésa Jones, Dr Kath McNamara and Prof. Bob Wong

Twitter: @arachnik

Ashton Dickerson (PhD)

Evolution of nocturnal singing in the willie wagtail and the effects of urbanisation upon this behaviour

After completing my masters research examining natural variation of behaviour between individuals in a bird species, I began to wonder how environmental factors may also influence behaviour. Environmental factors related to urbanisation are of particular interest to me as urbanisation affects wildlife worldwide. Using willie wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys) I will examine whether factors such as artificial light at light (ALAN) and traffic noise influence behaviour (with a focus on singing behaviour). Willie wagtails are a particularly useful species to examine this question as they are known for singing at night (when ALAN is in action). Nocturnal singing is a relatively unusual behaviour, and as such I will also seek out the evolutionary drivers behind this phenomenon. I aim to discover if urbanisation affects nocturnal singing, through both observational and experimental methods, and to also examine various hypotheses that may explain the evolution of nocturnal singing and its fitness effects.

PhD Supervisors: Dr Michelle Hall and Therésa Jones

Twitter: @aScienceBird
Instagram: @birdsofscience


Marty Lockett (PhD)

Effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) on invertebrate community composition and abundance

Street lighting is a ubiquitous source of urban light pollution, yet its effects on local wildlife – in particular at the community level – are poorly understood. Still less understood is the extent to which different lighting technologies may impact on faunal communities in the short and long term. By sampling aerial and terrestrial invertebrate communities under different street lighting treatments, my masters project aims to identify how the presence or absence of street lighting impacts on the composition and abundance of local invertebrate communities, and whether the nature and extent of those impacts varies with changes in lighting technologies.

PhD Supervisors: Dr Therésa Jones and Dr Gareth Hopkins


Bec R

Rebecca Rasmussen (Research Assistant)

Artificial light as an agent of evolutionary change

I am exploring the potential for light at night to act as a powerful agent promoting evolutionary change using the Australian field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Gareth HopkinsAssistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Western Oregon University.


Dr Lucy McLayThe impact of light at night and oxidative stress in Drosophila
Dr Anne AulsebrookThe impact of light at night on avian sleep
Dr Liz MillaEvolutionary ecology of the Australian Heliozelidae (Adeloidea; Lepidoptera)
Dr Jessica HennekenMate choice in orb weaving spiders
Dr Yasaman AlaviThe evolution of facultative parthenogenesis in the Australian spiny leaf insect (Extatosoma tiaratum)
Dr Bec FeatherstonSexual conflict and sex ratios: the impact of female control
Dr Kathryn McNamaraMale mating strategies and their effect on female fitness in the almond moth


Maddie BrownThe effect of light at night on cognition and life history traits
Harriett KulichThe impact of light at night on zebra finch cognition
Tom KeaneyMother’s curse: Drosophila melanogaster
Caitlin SelleckFood choice in a native caterpillar pest
Nikolas WillmottResponses of a nocturnal orb-weaving spider to artificial light at night
Alex FrancisCommunity level impacts of variation in the spectra of artificial light at night
Chris FreelanceVariation in tissue bound ROS and melatonin concentration in response to ALAN
Ellie MichaelidesFitness costs associated with environmental light pollution
Joanna DurrantPhysiological consequences of constant light exposure and the role of melatonin in the black field cricket
Jessi HennekenThe use of web based chemical cues in mate assessment in an orb weaving spider
Christina EldridgeResponding to stress – the impact of dietary oxidants for fitness


Connor WheelanVariation in song traits under different nocturnal light conditions
Michael BothaArtificial light at night and variation in reproductive investment in crickets


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