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Current Research Projects

The Mechanisms of Behaviour lab group was founded in 2012 by Dr Karen Spencer when she came to work at the University of St Andrews in the school of Psychology and Neuroscience. This highly collaborative and diverse group investigates several pathways and mechanisms that give rise to neuroendocrinological function and behaviours in avian species. Ultimately, as researchers, they are interested in understanding how the brain, physiology and behaviour all link up, as well as improving avian welfare. They study several bird species to understand how all these factors interact to affect an individual's ability to respond to challenges, such as climate change, stress and anthropogenic disturbances. Although each student and researcher in the group has very different and niche questions they are investigating, the common link between all of their projects is their focus on behaviour, stress and the endocrine system that regulates stress - The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. 

From pre-natal acoustic stimuli to ageing and from circadian rhythms and clocks to neuroimmunity and ecological disturbances to the gut micro biome, our work is varied although centralised around the main themes of stress and development.

If you want to know more specifics about novel and exciting research, information about our current funded projects is here, but don't forget to scroll down and find out how the MoB group describes their research in one sentence or less!


 To find out more about our group members and their individual interests look here and to read more about our research check out our available list of published papers here. Finally, we are a highly collaborative group with joint PhD studentships and projects with collaborators all over the world. If you're interested in teaming up or joining us you can find a list of available positions and internship opportunities, here and a contact form here. Thanks for taking the time to learn about the MoB Lab!





"Seabird behaviour and ecology" 

—  Becky Lakin, PhD

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