Dr Fiona Hunter
School of Biosciences
Director of Education
Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
+44 114 222 0083
Full contact details
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
- 2021 - present: Director of Education, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield
- 2015 - present: Senior University Teacher, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield
- 2015 - 2021: Director of Learning and Teaching, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
- 2008 - 2015: University Teacher, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
- 2003 - 2009: Associate University Teacher, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
- 2001 - 2002: Contract Biologist
- 2000 - 2001: Temporary Lecturer, University of Stirling
- 1999 - 2000: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Sheffield
- 1992 - 1999: NERC Independent Research Fellow, Department of Zoology, Cambridge University
- 1991 - 1992: Senior Research Assistant, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- 1990 - 1991: Temporary Lecturer, University of Sheffield
- 1988 - 1990: PhD, University of Sheffield
- Research interests
Main research projects
- Mate switching, copulation behaviour and mechanisms of sperm competition in the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adéliae) with fieldwork at Cape Bird, Antarctica.1992 - 1997.
- Sexual selection and the evolution of ornaments in Aethia auklets, fieldwork on Buldir Island, Alaska. 1992 - present.
- Sperm Competition in Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), involving fieldwork on Fair Isle, Scotland. 1988 - 1990.
Examples of some minor projects
- Honeybee use of floral signals, with fieldwork in Western Portugal. 2019 - present.
- Sexual conflict and reproductive isolation in Drosophila pseudoobscura. 2005.
- Heritability of sexually selected and immunological traits in Zebra finches. 2000.
- Evolution of sperm morphology and viability in insects. University of Sheffield. 2000.
- Population declines of Brunnich's guillemots in NW Greenland. 1987.
- Gene reversion in yeast cells. 1983.
I have obtained research funding of over £1.4 million from sources including NERC, National Geographic, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Antarctica New Zealand, and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
I have collaborated on Behavioural/Ecological research with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Russia and the UK, and given invited research seminars in the U.S, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Norway and Austria, as well as the UK.
- Sexual conflict does not drive reproductive isolation in experimental populations ofDrosophila pseudoobscura. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20(5), 1763-1771.
- Covariation among demographic and climate parameters in whiskered auklets Aethia pygmaea. J AVIAN BIOL, 38(4), 450-461.
- Genic capture and the genetic basis of sexually selected traits in the zebra finch.. Evolution, 60(11), 2389-2398.
- Oil pollution and climate have wide-scale impacts on seabird demographics. ECOL LETT, 8(11), 1157-1164.
- Assessment of 17 new whiskered auklet (Aethia pygmaea) microsatellite loci in 42 seabirds identifies 5-15 polymorphic markers for each of nine Alcinae species. MOL ECOL NOTES, 5(2), 289-297.
- Natural variation in the sexually selected feather ornaments of crested auklets (Aethia cristatella) does not predict future survival. BEHAV ECOL, 15(2), 332-337.
- Mate Switching Patterns in Crested Auklets (Aethia cristatella): The Role of Breeding Success and Ornamentation.. Bird Behavior, 16, 7-12.
- Breeding Biology of the Whiskered Auklet (Aethia Pygmaea) at Buldir Island, Alaska. The Auk, 119(4), 1036-1051.
- Annual adult survival of Least Auklets (Aves, Alcidae) varies with large-scale climatic conditions of the North Pacific Ocean. OECOLOGIA, 133(1), 38-44.
- Male-Female Differences in Parental Care in Monogamous Crested Auklets. The Condor, 104(2), 413-423.
- Sperm viability and sperm competition in insects.. Curr Biol, 12(2), 121-123.
- Male-female differences in parental care in monogamous Crested Auklets. CONDOR, 104(2), 413-423.
- BREEDING BIOLOGY OF THE WHISKERED AUKLET (AETHIA PYGMAEA) AT BULDIR ISLAND, ALASKA. Ornithology, 119(4), 1036-1051.
- View this article in WRRO A critique of avian CHD-based molecular sexing protocols illustrated by a Z-chromosome polymorphism detected in auklets. MOL ECOL NOTES, 1(3), 201-204.
- Patterns of variation in ornaments of Crested Auklets Aethia cristatella. Journal of Avian Biology, 31(2), 119-127.
- Strategic allocation of ejaculates by male Adélie penguins.. Proc Biol Sci, 267(1452), 1541-1545.
- The Frequency and Function of Aquatic Courtship and Copulation in Least, Crested, Whiskered, and Parakeet Auklets. The Condor, 101(3), 518-528.
- Breeding Biology of Crested Auklets at Buldir and Kasatochi Islands, Alaska. The Auk, 116(3), 690-701.
- Experimental evidence for mutual inter- and intrasexual selection favouring a crested auklet ornament. Animal Behaviour, 57(3), 521-528.
- Reciprocal Homosexual Mounting in Adélie PenguinsPygoscelis adeliae. Emu - Austral Ornithology, 98(2), 136-137.
- Female Adélie Penguins Acquire Nest Material from Extrapair Males after Engaging in Extrapair Copulations. The Auk, 115(2), 526-528.
- Heterospecific mating preferences for a feather ornament in least auklets. Behavioral Ecology, 9(2), 187-192.
- Timing of pair and extra-pair copulations in the Northern Fulmar. CONDOR, 100(1), 141-145.
- Sperm Transfer in the Adélie Penguin. The Condor, 98(2), 410-413.
- Mate Switching and Copulation Behaviour in the Adélie Penguin. Behaviour, 132(9-10), 691-707.
- Mutual sexual selection in a monogamous seabird. Nature, 362(6417), 238-239.
- Intraspecific Variation in Courtship and Copulation Frequency: an Effect of Mismatch in Partner Attractiveness?. Behaviour, 127(3-4), 265-277.
- WHY DO FEMALES COPULATE REPEATEDLY WITH ONE MALE. TRENDS ECOL EVOL, 8(1), 21-26.
- FREQUENT COPULATION AS A METHOD OF PATERNITY ASSURANCE IN THE NORTHERN FULMAR. ANIM BEHAV, 44(1), 149-156.
- EXTRA-PAIR PATERNITY AND INTRASPECIFIC BROOD PARASITISM IN WILD ZEBRA FINCHES TAENIOPYGIA-GUTTATA, REVEALED BY DNA FINGERPRINTING. BEHAV ECOL SOCIOBIOL, 27(5), 315-324.
- NUMBERS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SPERM IN THE UTEROVAGINAL SPERM STORAGE TUBULES OF THE ZEBRA FINCH. CONDOR, 92(2), 508-516.
- Reply from Tim Birkhead and Fiona Hunter. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 5(8), 263-264.
- NUMBERS OF SPERM-STORAGE TUBULES IN THE ZEBRA FINCH (POEPHILA-GUTTATA) AND BENGALESE FINCH (LONCHURA-STRIATA). AUK, 107(1), 193-197.
- MECHANISMS OF SPERM COMPETITION. TRENDS ECOL EVOL, 5(2), 48-52.
- SPERM COMPETITION IN THE ZEBRA FINCH, TAENIOPYGIA-GUTTATA. ANIM BEHAV, 38, 935-950.
- Extra-pair copulation and sperm competition in the zebra finch.. Nature, 334(6177), 60-62.
- Factors affecting mutational yield from EMS exposures of yeast (S. cerevisiae). Mutation Research Letters, 122(1), 35-38.
- Extensive variation in feather ornaments of Whiskered Auklets in the Aleutian Islands reflects age, sex, condition, and geography. Ornithology.
- Teaching activities
I am Director of Education in the School of Biosciences, overseeing learning and teaching in all biological subjects, and responsible for strategic planning in all areas of Bioscience education.
I have taught for over 30 years, providing lectures, lab and field practicals, tutorials, workshops, field courses, undergraduate and postgraduate projects and literature reviews. I have taught on 26 different modules and specialise in zoology, animal behaviour, ecology and field studies.
I was Director of Teaching in the Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences (APS) from Sept 2015 to Aug 2021, during which time I reviewed and updated all programmes, introduced a research embedded model of teaching and led all aspects of the rapid move to online teaching and support during the covid pandemic.
I am now leading on the planning and implementation of the Biologies Teaching Partnership, bringing the teaching from three departments into one coherent newly designed curriculum that optimises quality of teaching, practical training and student choice (Sept 2019 - present).
- Professional activities and memberships
I am a life member of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour and a National Geographic Explorer.
Outreach, Widening Participation and Public Engagement
I designed and led the APS Outreach Programme which ran from 2010 until funding ended in 2018. It reached over 55,000 children, provided opportunities for biology students to gain teaching and science communication experience and gave researchers opportunities for public engagement.
- Christmastime Lecture - 8 showcase interactive lectures on birds, dinosaurs, plants, sea life, animal learning and evolution, presented to 7,213 children from 35 schools.
- Primary school visits - ‘Be a Scientist for the Day’, ‘Be an Ecologist for the Day’ and ‘Be a Palaeontologist for the Day’. Inspiring over 6,000 children from 37 primary schools.
- Sideshow Science – A collaboration with Weston Park Museum, Sheffield, that brought science into the community, with themes including optical illusions, fossils and honeybee communication.
- Science Festivals – Researcher’s and Discovery Nights and CBBC Live where I coordinated and ran biology and research-based activities for children and adults.