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Fellows Directory

Patrick Bateson

Patrick Bateson

Sir Patrick Bateson FRS


Elected: 1983





Patrick Bateson was a biologist who specialised in researching the behaviour of animals and how it is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Patrick was a world authority on imprinting in birds — the process of learning to recognise their parents and members of their own species — and his work led to new principles in behavioural development.

He devised original experiments that showed how characteristics of imprinting depend on the bird’s early life experiences. Patrick’s investigation of learning in birds led to greater understanding of the neural basis of memory. He also had an interest in how developmental and behavioural processes influence evolution.

Patrick was concerned with the ethics of using animals in research and the analysis of animal pain and suffering. This led to a study into the effects on red deer of hunting with hounds, an inquiry into dog breeding and a review of the use of animals in research. He wrote many books and held leading posts such as President of the Zoological Society of London, and Biological Secretary of the Royal Society.

Sir Patrick Bateson FRS died on 1 August 2017.

Biographical Memoir

Professional positions

Emeritus Professor of Ethology, University of Cambridge
Former Provost of King's College, King's College, University of Cambridge

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Ethology
  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Behavioural neuroscience


Biological evolution, epigenetics, , behavioural plasticity, Social play, Playfulness, Imprinting (psychology), innovation


  • Rutherford Memorial Lecture

    Given in Australia.

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