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Dr 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).


Lucy McLay (PhD)

The links between artificial light at night and oxidative stress

My research interest is on the impact of artificial light at night (ALAN) on the fitness of organisms. I will be using Drosophila as a model species to measure the fitness implications of different intensities of ALAN. My research will focus on the physiological changes that ALAN causes due to the disruptive effects of ALAN on melatonin production. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that mops up reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by normal metabolic processes. When an organism’s ability to deal with ROS gets out of balance with ROS production, the result is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can affect proteins, lipids and DNA. Many studies have shown the impacts of oxidative stress on life span, ageing, fertility, immunity and offspring viability. I plan to investigate the impacts of ALAN over successive generations of Drosophila using a range of behavioural and physiological assays.

PhD Supervisors: Therésa Jones and Dr Mark Green

Twitter: @lmclay1


Annie Aulsebrook (PhD)

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

Over the past decade, there has been growing evidence for impacts of artificial light at night on wildlife. One of the most commonly observed effects is a change in the timing of behaviour in birds. In cities, many songbirds begin their dawn chorus earlier than in rural environments. In the laboratory, exposure to constant bright light can keep birds awake at night. However, most research has either been correlational or has exposed animals to unrealistic lighting regimes. My PhD research uses the latest technology to understand the real-world impacts of streetlights on birds. I am using a combination of controlled laboratory experiments, naturalistic field experiments, and activity recordings from wild birds to investigate how streetlights affect day-night rhythms, including sleep. My two study species are the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) and native black swan (Cygnus atratus). I am hoping that my research will offer insight into the unintended consequences of artificial lighting, and also offer some practical solutions.

PhD Supervisors: Prof Raoul Mulder, Dr John Lesku and Therésa Jones

Twitter: @AnneAulsebrook

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 Gareth Hopkins


Maddie Brown (Masters)

The impact of multiple stressors of cricket life history

My research will explore the impact of variation in artificial light at night and temperature on life history traits using the Australian field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus.

Supervisors: Dr Therésa Jones, Dr Kathryn McNamara, Dr Rob Hale


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.



Dr Liz Milla Evolutionary ecology of the Australian Heliozelidae (Adeloidea; Lepidoptera)
Dr Jessica Henneken  Mate choice in orb weaving spiders
Dr Yasaman Alavi  The evolution of facultative parthenogenesis in the Australian spiny leaf insect (Extatosoma tiaratum)
Dr Kathryn McNamara  Male mating strategies and their effect on female fitness in the almond moth
Dr Rebecca Featherston  Sexual conflict and sex ratios: the impact of female control


Harriett Kulich  The impact of light at night on zebra finch cognition
Tom Keaney  Mother’s curse: Drosophila melanogaster
Caitlin Selleck  Food choice in a native caterpillar pest
Nikolas Willmott  Responses of a nocturnal orb-weaving spider to artificial light at night
Alex Francis  Community level impacts of variation in the spectra of artificial light at night
Chris Freelance  Variation in tissue bound ROS and melatonin concentration in response to ALAN
Ellie Michaelides  Fitness costs associated with environmental light pollution
Jessi Henneken  The use of web based chemical cues in mate assessment in an orb weaving spider (Argiope trifasciata)
Joanna Durrant  Physiological consequences of constant light exposure and the role of melatonin in the Australian field cricket,  Teleogryllus commodus
Christina Eldridge  Responding to stress – the impact of dietary oxidants for fitness


Michael Botha  Artificial light at night and variation in reproductive investment in crickets

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