Clare Andrews - Postdoctoral Research Associate


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  • Spoke at International Society for Behavioural Ecology 2018.

I have broad interests in animal behaviour, animal welfare, wildlife conservation, behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology. 

My particular research interests include:
  • Understanding individual behavioural variation, including in decision-making, cognition, emotion and weight regulation
  • Behavioural indicators of animal welfare
  • Parental care and parent-offspring interactions
  • Applied animal behaviour
  • Application of evolutionary theory to human behaviour and health

I currently research the influence of stress in early life on ageing, and adult cognition, behaviour & physiology.

In humans, childhood deprivation and stress is related to many aspects of adult behaviour such as pessimism and addictive tendencies - but are events in childhood the cause? I am working with starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to shed light on such questions, with benefits for human and animal well-being.
Starling chicks

Prior to this, I investigated fish behaviour and welfare, with the aim of developing welfare indicators in zebrafish (Danio rerio).

        "The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and
        pain, happiness, and misery", Charles Dawin

[A testable hypothesis at least Mr Darwin...]


During my previous postdoc,  I conducted breeding and selection experiments with burying beetles (Nicrophorus vespilloides) to examine the genetic architecture of complex suites of parental and offspring behaviours, and how these behaviours co-evolve in response to selection.  I have also used experiments to distinguish between alternative game-theoretical models for the evolution of parent-offspring communication. We tested two critical assumptions on which these models are based: whether parents or offspring control resource allocation and whether or not begging is costly. 

“From the small size of insects, we are apt 
to undervalue their appearance", Charles Darwin

A burying beetle Nircrophorus vespilloides feeding larvae. These beetles breed on carcasses of small vertebrates. One or both parents provision larvae with predigested carrion. Larvae signal their hunger levels to parents by begging, raising their heads while waving their legs or touching the parent.

Info on burying beetles: YouTube NewScientist BBC Wikipedia
My DPhil research examined the signalling functions of nestling begging behaviour in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), quantified environmental and genetic sources of variation in begging, and examined co-adaptation between begging and parental provisioning. 

"I often tried, and very nearly succeeded, in 
catching these birds by the legs", Charles Darwin

In addition to my own research, I have co-supervised several undergraduate honours project and summer students investigating bird and beetle behaviour. I also co-supervise students on the Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare MSc at the University of Edinburgh and Animal Behaviour MRes at Newcastle University studying birds, sheep and fish.

In the past I have co-supervised MSc Biology students at the University of Oxford, as well as giving tutorials in Animal Behaviour & Environmental Biology and demonstrating for several undergraduate and MSc practical courses. I also provided study skills support for Disability Offices at the Universities of Oxford and St. Andrews. In 2007, I took a little time away from academia to work with the New Zealand Department of Conservation Biodiversity Programme, principally on a blue duck (
Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) re-introduction project. 


CV in Brief

Newcastle University logoCOMSTAR project logo2014 -  Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University
Early-life adversity and developmental plasticity in starlings and humans
PIs: Prof. Melissa Bateson, Prof. Daniel Nettle

2009 - 2012  

2008 - 2009   
Postdoctoral Research Associate in Fish Behaviour and Welfare, University of Edinburgh
Investigation of behavioural and physiological responses to fin-clipping in zebrafish
NC3Rs, PI: Ms Gidona Goodman

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh
 Evolution of Elaborate Parental Care: Genetics and Selection
    NERC, PI:
Dr Per Smiseth, CI: Prof. Loeske Kruuk

Postdoctoral Research Associate
, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh
    Evolution of Parent-Offspring Communication
    NERC, PI:
Dr Per Smiseth

2002 - 2006    

2001 - 2002
DPhil, Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford (New College)
    Begging and the Resolution of Parent-Offspring Conflict in Birds
    BBSRC, Supervisor:
Prof. Ben Sheldon
MSc Biology (Integrative Bioscience), University of Oxford (New College)
1998 - 2001

Annie Gott, A., Andrews, C., Larriva, M., Spencer, K., Bateson, M., & Nettle, D. 2018 Chronological age, biological age, and individual variation in the stress response in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris): A follow-up study. PeerJ

Dunn, J.,
Andrews, C., Nettle, D., & Bateson, M. 2018. Early-life begging effort reduces adult body mass but strengthens behavioural defence of the rate of enery intake in European starlings. Royal Society Open Science 5: 
171918. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171918

Andrews, C., Nettle, D., Reichert, S., Bedford, T., Monaghan, P., & Bateson, M. 2018. A marker of biological ageing predicts adult risk preference in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Behavioral Ecology 29: 589-597. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/ary009

Neville, V., Andrews, C., Nettle, D., & Bateson, M. 2017. Dissociating the effects of alternative early-life feeding schedules on the development of adult depression-like phenotypes. Scientific Reports 7: 14832. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13776-4

Andrews, C., Nettle, D., Larriva, M., Gilespie, R., Reichert, S., Brilot, B.O., Bedford, T., Monaghan, P., Spencer, K.A., & Bateson, M. 2017.  A marker of biological age explains individual variation in the strength of the adult stress response. Royal Society Open Science 
4: 171208. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171208

Bedford, T., Oliver, C.J., Andrews, C.Bateson, M. & Nettle, D. 2017. Effects of early life adversity and sex on dominance in European Starlings. Animal Behaviour. 128: 51-60. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.03.026

Nettle, D., Andrews, C., Reichert, S., Bedford, T., Kolenda, C., Parker, C., Martin-Ruiz, C., Monaghan, P. and Bateson, M. 2017. Early-life adversity accelerates cellular ageing and affects adult inflammation: Experimental evidence from the European starlingScientific Reports. 7: 40794. DOI: 10.1038/srep40794

Andrews, C., Kruuk, L. & Smiseth, P. 2017Evolution of parental care: phenotypic and genetic correlations between parent and offspring traits. Behavioural Ecology 28: 39-48. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arw129

Nettle, D., Andrews, C., & Bateson, M. 2017. Adaptive principles of weight regulation: Insufficient, but perhaps necessary, for understanding obesity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 40: e131. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X16002041 

Nettle, D., Andrews, C. & Bateson, M. 2017. Food insecurity as a driver of obesity in humans: The insurance hypothesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 40: e105. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X16000947

Nettle, D., Andrews C., Reichert, S., Bedford, T., Gott, A., Parker, C., Kolenda, C., Martin-Ruiz, C., Monaghan, P., Bateson, M. 2016. Brood size moderates associations between relative size, telomere length and immune development in European starling nestlings.  Ecology & Evolution. 6: 8138-8148. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2551

Andrews, C., Viviani, J., Egan, E., Bedford, T., Brilot, B., Nettle, D. & Bateson, M. 2015. Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Animal Behaviour 109:123-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.08.009

A poor start makes for fatter birds

Nettle, D., Andrews, C.P., Monaghan, P., Brilot, B.O., Bedford, T., Gillespie, R. & Bateson, M. 2015. Developmental and familial predictors of adult cognitive teiats in the European starling. Animal Behaviour 107:239-248. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.07.002

O'Hagan, D., Andrews, C., Bedford, T., Bateson, M. & Nettle, D. 2015. Early-life disadvantage strengthens flight performance trade-offs in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Animal Behaviour. 102:141-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.01.016

Mäenpää, M., Andrews, C., Collette, D., Leigh, D. & Smiseth, P. 2015Burying Beetle Larvae Discriminate Between Individual Parents and Between Some Classes of Adults. Ethology. 121: 395-402 
DOI: 10.1111/eth.12348

Smiseth, P.T., Andrews, C.P., Mattey, S.N. & Rooney, R. 2014. Phenotypic variation in resource acquisition influences trade-off between number and mass of offspring in a burying beetle. Journal of Zoology 293(2): 80-83. DOI:10.1111/jzo.12115    

Andrews, C. & Smiseth, P.T. 2013. Differentiating among alternative models for the resolution of parent-offspring conflict. Behavioural Ecology 24(5): 1185-1191DOI10.1093/beheco/art048  
Press coverage:  1   2   3   4   5   6 [in Dutch]   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15  16  Podcast

  • K. M. Monteith, 
  • C. Andrews
  • P. T. Smiseth.
  •  2012. Post-hatching parental care masks the effects of egg size on offspring fitness: a removal experiment on burying beetles. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25(9): 1815-1822. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02567.x

    Smiseth, P.T.,  Pellissier Scott, M. & Andrews, C. 2011.  Hormonal regulation of offspring begging and mediation of parent-offspring conflict. Animal Behaviour 81(3): 507-517
    DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.11.029

    Smiseth, P.T., Andrews, C., Brown, E. & Prentice, P.M. 2010. Chemical stimuli from parents trigger larval begging in burying beetles. Behavioral Ecology 21(3): 526-531. 

    Andrews, C. 2004. Review of A Birders’ Guide to the Behaviour of European and North American Birds, by G. Michl. Ibis 146: 542-543. 
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919x.2004.00308.x


    2018                International Society for Behavioural Ecology 2018, Minneapolis - Oral 
                            Universities Federation for Animal Welfare 2018, Newcastle - Oral

    2017                Diversity in Telomere Dynamics workshop 2017, Edinburgh - Oral
                                 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare 2017London  - Oral

    2016               International Society for Behavioural Ecology 2016, Exeter - Oral

                                Newcastle University Neuroscience Summer School - Animal Behaviour & Welfare lectures

                           Bangor University, Welfare module - Invited lecture

                           Diversity in Telomere Dynamics workshop 2016, Edinburgh - Oral
    2015               Behaviour 15, Cairns - Oral

                                NC3Rs/BBSRC joint meeting: Novel methods for measuring and assessing animal welfare - Poster & Flash Presentation

    2013               BBSRC Welfare Workshop - Oral

                           Behaviour 2013, Newcastle - Poster

                              8th European Zebrafish Meeting - Oral

                              UFAW International Animal Welfare Science Symposium - Oral

    2011               Behaviour Discussion Group, University of St. Andrews Invited Talk

    2010               International Society for Behavioural Ecology 13th Congress  - Oral & Poster

                              Scottish Conference for Animal Behaviour - Oral

    2009               European Society for Evolutionary Biology 12th Congress  - Oral

                           Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh Invited Seminar

    2008               Behaviour & Welfare Group, University of Bristol Invited Seminar

                           Applied Ethology Group, Linköping University Invited Seminar

                           Behaviour Discussion Group, University of St. Andrews Informal Seminar

    2006               Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford - Invited Seminar

    2004               International Society for Behavioural Ecology 10th Congress - Poster

                           Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Easter Meeting - Poster

    Press coverage & public engagement (selected)

    Soapbox Science Newcastle 2016

    2017    The Conversation: Unreliable food supplies, rather than too much food, may lead to obesity. (5 June 2017)

    2016    Soapbox Science, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

    2015    Nature World News: Stressed Hatchlings Become Obese Adult Birds(10 Nov 2015)

       Medical News Today: From starving chicks come fat birds(9 Nov 2015)

       Biosphere: Starving starling chicks become fat birds(10 Nov 2015)

    2014    Sentience Mosaic Debate panellist: Fish welfare in the laboratory: Is sentience considered? (14 July 2014)

    2013    Scientific American podcast: Beetle Busts Brood's Begging by Biting. (4 September 2013)

        BBC News coverage: Beetles eat greedy offspring, Edinburgh University research finds, (19 August 2013)

        Midlothian Science Festival 2013 

    2011    University of Edinburgh Doors Open Day 2011

       Edinburgh International Science Festival - 'What do Evolutionary Biologsts do?' display

        Quoted in Science: Mothering Beetles Suppress Microbes to Protect Food for Their Young, by Elizabeth Pennisi (16 September 2011)             Science 333: 1562 (DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6049.1562-a)

    2010    Planet Earth Online coverage: Chemicals make young burying beetles beg for food, by Tamera Jones (8 June 2010)

       New Scientist 'Zoologger' coverage:  Mummy, can I have some more carrion soup?, by Michael Marshall (10 March 2010)

    2009           Edinburgh International Science Festival - 'Caring Creepy Crawlies' display

    Collaborators & Associations

    Melissa Bateson, Newcastle University

    Daniel Nettle, Newcastle University

    Pat Monaghan, University of Glasgow

    Sophie Reichert, University of Sheffield

    Karen Spencer, University of St. Andrews

    Per Smiseth, University of Edinburgh

    Loeske Kruuk, University of Edinburgh

    Ben Sheldon, University of Oxford

    Sinead English, University of Cambridge

    Tropical Biology Association (I attended a field course in Uganda in 2001)

    Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

    European Society for Evolutionary Biology

    International Society for Behavioural Ecology

    For Students [links to new page]

    Hobbies & Interests

    I love mountaineering, snowboarding, trekking and travelling, and am starting to get the hang of sea-kayaking and speaking German. I also enjoy conservation volunteering as well as environmental and human rights campaigning.

    Useful links