Nicholas Barry Davies

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Nicholas Barry Davies FRS (born 1952) is a British field naturalist and zoologist, and Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Cambridge,[1] where he is also a Fellow of Pembroke College.


His books with John Krebs helped to define the field of behavioural ecology, the study of how behaviour evolves in response to selection pressures from ecology and the social environment.[2]

His study of a small brown bird, the dunnock, linked detailed behavioural observations of individuals to their reproductive success, using DNA profiles to measure paternity and maternity, and revealed how sexual conflicts gave rise to variable mating systems including: monogamy, polygyny, polyandry and polygynandry.

His studies of cuckoos and their hosts have revealed an evolutionary arms race of brood parasite adaptations and host counter-adaptations.

Other studies include: territory economics in pied wagtails; contest behaviour and mate searching in butterflies and toads; parent-offspring conflict and the transition to independence in young birds.

Awards and Distinctions[edit]

Key Publications[edit]

  • Krebs, J.R; Davies, N.B., eds. (1997). Behavioural Ecology - An Evolutionary Approach (4th ed.). Blackwell Science. 
  • Krebs, J.R; Davies, N.B. (1981). An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology (1st ed.). Blackwell Science. 
  • Davies, N.B. (1992). Dunnock Behaviour and Social Evolution. Oxford University Press. 
  • Davies, N.B. (2000). Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats. T. & A.D. Poyser. p. 310. 
  • Davies, N.B.; Krebs, J.R.; West, S.A. (2012). An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology (4th ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. 
  • Davies, Nick (2015). Cuckoo - Cheating by Nature. Bloomsbury. 


In 2007, he made an episode of The Natural World with David Attenborough focusing on the cuckoo.[5]

In 2011 he presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary entitled 'The Cuckoo'.[6]

In 2016 he was the subject of a BBC Radio documentary in the series The Life Scientific.[7]

In 2017 he was the guest of Michael Berkeley on BBC Radio 3 Private Passions.[8]

In 2017 he appeared in an episode of the BBC Radio 4 Natural Histories series entitled "Cuckoo".[9]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Royle, Nick J. (2013) Book Review: An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, Animal Behaviour, Volume 85, Issue 3, March, Pages 686–687
  3. ^ "Nicholas B. Davies". American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "IMDb". Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "BBC iPlayer". Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  7. ^ al-Khalili, Jim (2016) The Life Scientific: Nick Davies, BBC Radio 4 (Broadcast June 21, 2016)
  8. ^ Private Passions BBC Radio 3 (broadcast August 6th, 2017)
  9. ^ Natural Histories BBC Radio 4 (broadcast August 8th, 2017)

External links[edit]