Dr James Savage

Lecturer in Animal Behaviour

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Life sciences

Research Supervision:Yes

James is a behavioural ecologist whose research focuses on social and reproductive behaviour, particularly parental care. He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and a PG Cert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education from University College Cork.

ORCiD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4737-5673


James joined ARU in January 2021. Since my PhD he has worked at institutions in the Netherlands (Wageningen University), Ireland (University College Cork), and the UK (University of Cambridge, University of Sheffield, University of Chester) as a researcher and lecturer. He has ongoing collaborations with researchers in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand and have worked on bird and mammal field projects in a number of countries.#

James' PhD research at the University of Cambridge explored cooperative breeding behaviour both from a theoretical perspective, and in the field using an Australian arid-zone bird – the chestnut-crowned babbler – as a wild study system.

Throughout James' academic career, the main focus of his research has been parental investment and offspring care: the decisions individuals make about delivering care, how those decisions are modified by the presence and contributions of others, and the ‘rules’ that underpin how individuals interact. He investigates these questions with theoretical models, and use field studies to establish whether our current conceptual frameworks reflect how animals actually behave.

Research interests

  • Parental care
  • Animal communication
  • Maternal effects
  • Social behaviour
  • Data management


Animal Communication

Practical Skills in Animal Behaviour


PG Cert Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University College Cork.

PhD, University of Cambridge (Peterhouse)

BA (Hons) Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge (Peterhouse)

Memberships, editorial boards

Co-chair, Engaging Researchers with Data Interest Group, Research Data Alliance.

Guest Editor, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Member of our Behavioural Ecology Research Group.

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

2019: Urgency Grant (researcher co-investigator). Natural Environment Research Council. £62,018

2016: Ulysses Fund (co-applicant). Irish Research Council & Campus France. €5,000

2016: Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship. Irish Research Council. €90,084

Selected recent publications

Nomano, F. Y., Savage, J. L., Rollins, L. A., Griffith, S. C., Russell, A. F., 2021. Communal roosting shows dynamics predicted by direct and indirect nepotism in chestnut-crowned babblers. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 75, p. 27.

Savage J. L., Crane, J. M. S., 2020. What can we learn from antique ornithology? Emu, 120, pp. 97-99.

Savage J. L., Hinde, C. A., Johnstone, R. A., 2020. Editorial: Cooperation and Coordination in the Family. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8, p. 417.

Johnstone, R. A., Savage, J. L., 2019. Conditional cooperation and turn-taking in parental care. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, p. 335.

Savage J. L., Cadwallader, L., 2019. Establishing, developing, and sustaining a community of Data Champions. Data Science Journal, 18, p. 23.

Media experience

Massive Open Online Course Introduction to Animal Behaviour in collaboration with Wageningen University, 2016-present.