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Fellows Directory

Rebecca Kilner

Rebecca Kilner

Professor Rebecca Kilner FRS


Elected: 2021





Rebecca Kilner is an evolutionary biologist whose research analyses the evolution of animal behaviour, and how behaviour then affects the pace and scope of subsequent evolutionary change. Her work on birds and insects has revealed hidden adaptations within the family that balance evolutionary cooperation against evolutionary conflict. She showed how adults cooperate to provision offspring yet remain vulnerable to manipulation by a lazy partner; how siblings are rivals for resources yet can cooperate to obtain more food; and how offspring reliably advertise their need to provisioning parents yet can seek more food than is optimal for parents to supply.

Her current work considers how behaviour contributes to further evolutionary change by acting as an agent of natural selection, by changing the pace at which traits change in response to selection, and by providing diverse mechanisms for non-genetic inheritance.

Rebecca has received a number of awards for her work including the Scientific Medal from the Zoological Society of London. She is currently Director of the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology and President of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology.

Professional positions

Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Director, University Museum Of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Ecology (incl behavioural ecology), Ethology, Evolution
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