Lesley Morrell

Dr Lesley Morrell

Director of Teaching and Learning

Faculty of Science and Engineering


+44 (0) 1482 465874

Lesley Morrell is interested in how animals respond to their environments, particularly in the context of anti-predator aggregation and environmental change.

Her group studies how animals interact with one another in their foraging, mating and social decisions, and how the environment affects these behaviours.

Projects include the behavioural responses of small fish to increasing environmental turbidity, the effect of resource density on attack rates by foraging insects, and understanding how predators target prey, using principles taken from human psychology.

Lesley is also interested in how students learn, and evaluating the effectiveness of learning and teaching strategies.


Research Interests

  • Animal behaviour
  • Behavioural ecology
  • Social behaviour
  • Anti-predator behaviour
  • Animal aggregation
  • Lateralised behaviour in fish
  • Effects of environmental change on behaviour
  • Fish behaviour
  • Student learning


Rothery L, Scott G S and Morrell L J, 'Colour Preferences of UK Garden Birds at Supplementary Seed Feeders', PLoS ONE, 12, 2, e0172422 (2017)

Kimbell H S and Morrell L J, 'Turbidity Weakens Selection for Assortment by Body Size in Groups', Behavioural Ecology, 27, 2, pp 545-552 (2016)

Kimbell H S and Morrell L J, ‘Selfish Herds’ of Guppies Follow Complex Movement Rules, but not When Information is Limited', Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282, 1816 (2015)

Rodgers G M, Downing B and Morrell L J, 'Prey Body Size Mediates the Predation Risk Associated with Being "Odd"', Behavioural Ecology, 26, pp 242-246 (2015)

Morrell L J, Greenwood L and Ruxton G D, 'Consequences of Variation in Predator Attack for the Evolution of the Selfish Herd', Evolutionary Ecology, 29, pp 107-121 (2015)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Skills for Biologists - Tutor
  • Behavioural Ecology - Coordinator
  • Professional and Research Skills for Biologists - Lecturer
  • Topics in Biodiversity and Evolution - Coordinator
  • Research Projects - Supervisor
  • Reviews in Biology - Supervisor

Research PhDs

Dr Morrell welcomes applications in all areas of her research, particularly those relating to the evolution of aggregation as an anti-predator defence.

She is able to supervise both empirical and theoretical projects and is willing to support applications from students wishing to access their own funding.

Completed PhDs

  • Kimbell H S, Behavioural Flexibility and Environmental Change, University of Hull (2005)
  • Johannesen Á, Aquatic Predator-Prey Interactions, University of Leeds (2013)
  • Rodgers G M, The Role of Colour and Oddity in Fish Behaviour, University of Leeds (2011)
  • Chapman B B, Early Experience and Plasticity in Guppies, University of Leeds (2009)

Current PhD Supervisions

  • McLean S, Laterality and Parental Care in Fish
  • Peasland E, Maximising the Benefits of Environmental Fieldwork for a Diverse Student Body
  • Dobbinson K E, The Oddity Effect: Applying Principles from Psychology to an Ecological Question
  • Carrick C, Forager Responses to Patch Size, Density and Purity: Exploring Resource Concentration and Resource Dilution Effects


Teaching awards and accolades

  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Runner-up, Bioscience Teacher of the Year 2016
  • Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach), Royal Society of Biology & Science Council (2016)
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD, University of Glasgow, 2004
  • BSc Ecology, University of East Anglia, 1999

Professional highlights

  • NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) Fellowship, 2006-2010