Lecturer (Research)
Telephone: (01792) 295288
Room: Academic Office - 202A
Second Floor
Wallace Building
Singleton Campus

My research uses a multidisciplinary  approach to investigate how animal societies evolve, combining  observational data with genetic, ecological and biochemical data. In  particular, my work has focused on four interconnecting themes relating  to the evolution of animal societies 1) exploring the evolution of  cooperation 2) understanding the importance of inbreeding and inbreeding  avoidance in cooperative species 3) investigating the role of scent  communication in cooperation and breeding decisions, and 4)  understanding the genetic structure of mammalian societies. While my  previous work has extensively used population genetic techniques, I am  currently working to extend my research to use genomic methods (such as  RADseq and SNP data) to address these themes as they provide a powerful tool to understand the genetic basis of traits associated with social evolution. I am achieving this via Fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, working with colleagues at Bielefeld University, University of Pretoria and University of Cambridge.

Areas of expertise:

  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Molecular Ecology
  • Genetic diversity and inbreeding
  • Conservation genetics
  • Cooperative behaviour
  • Evolution



  1. Stoffel, M., Humble, E., Paijmans, A., Acevedo-Whitehouse, K., Chilvers, B., Dickerson, B., Galimberti, F., Gemmell, N., Goldsworthy, S., Nichols, H., Kr├╝ger, O., Negro, S., Osborne, A., Pastor, T., Robertson, B., Sanvito, S., Schultz, J., Shafer, A., Wolf, J., Hoffman, J., Nichols, H. Demographic histories and genetic diversity across pinnipeds are shaped by human exploitation, ecology and life-history Nature Communications 9 1
  2. Ottensmann, M., Stoffel, M., Nichols, H., Hoffman, J. GCalignR: An R package for aligning gas-chromatography data for ecological and evolutionary studies PLOS ONE 13 6 e0198311
  3. Sheppard, C., Marshall, H., Inger, R., Thompson, F., Vitikainen, E., Barker, S., Nichols, H., Wells, D., McDonald, R., Cant, M. Decoupling of Genetic and Cultural Inheritance in a Wild Mammal Current Biology 28 11 1846 1850.e2
  4. Wells, D., Cant, M., Nichols, H., Hoffman, J. A high-quality pedigree and genetic markers both reveal inbreeding depression for quality but not survival in a cooperative mammal Molecular Ecology 27 9 2271 2288
  5. Mitchell, J., Kyabulima, S., Businge, R., Cant, M., Nichols, H., Nichols, H. Kin discrimination via odour in the cooperatively breeding banded mongoose Royal Society Open Science 5 3 171798

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  • Inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in banded mongooses (Mungos Mungo) (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Kevin Arbuckle
  • Evolutionary history of mongooses and related small carnivores (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Kevin Arbuckle
  • Social Structures in Long-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas) (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr James Bull
  • The impacts of climate change on population dynamics and social behaviour in Banded mongooses (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Andrew King