Mandy Ridley

Associate Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M092), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from PlumX

Personal profile


2004 PhD Behavioural Ecology, Cambridge University, UK
1999 BSC (Hons) Animal Ecology, Lincoln University, New Zealand

After finishing my PhD, I was awarded a postdoctoral position at Newnham College, Cambridge University. During this time I set up the Pied Babbler Research Project in the Kalahari desert. In 2005 I took a postdoctoral position at the University of Cape Town, and then moved to a research position at Macquarie University, Sydney, in 2009. I moved to UWA in 2012 as an ARC Future Fellow.

Future research

My research involves investigating the behavior, reproductive success, cognition and long-term population dynamics of several wild, cooperatively breeding bird species. I will use these populations to investigate critical group size effects (i.e. the demographic and behavioural changes that occur when groups become too big or too small) and climte change impacts on behaviour and reproduction.

The recent research funded by an ARC Discovery grant will investigate the relationship between cognition and sociality in the cooperatively breeding Western Australian magpie. A specific aim of this research is to understand how group-living affects the ontogeny and expression of cognitive behaviour, and what the consequences of variation in cognitive ability are.

Ongoing research in my lab focusses on aspects of social living, including factors affecting investment in cooperation, inter versus intragroup dynamics, cognition and sociality, and vocal communication. Recent research in my lab has looked at the impact of cliamte change on cooperative breeding behaviour and group dynamics. 

Funding overview

2011 ARC Future Fellowship 'Group dynamics, critical group size effects and population regulation in cooperative breeders'

2014 ARC Discovery Grant 'The benefits of sociality: understanding the relationship between cognition, cooperation and fitness'

2019 ARC Discovery Grant "Understanding the relationship between sociality and cognition"

2021 ARC Discovery Grant "Understanding the impact of heat stress on cognition in a changing world"


Previous positions

2009-2012 Lecturer, Macquarie University
2005-2009 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cape Town
2004-2005 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cambridge University

Current projects

Understanding communicative complexity in highly social speices (Pied Babbler Research Project, Western Magpie Research Project, and a collaboration with Dr Stephanie King of the Shark Bay Dolphin Research Project).

Long-term population dynamics, population regulation and critical group size effects in cooperative breeders (Pied and Arabian Babbler Research Projects)

The effect of extreme climate events on behaviour and cognition (Pied and Arabian Babbler Research Projects, Western Magpie Research Project)

The relationship between sociality and cognition (Western Magpie Research Project and Pied Babbler Research Project)

The fragile dynamic between intra-group cooperation and conflict (Western Magpie Research Project and Pied Babbler Research Project)

Determining the social versus environmental drivers of cognition (Western Magpie Research Project)

Teaching overview

Wildlife Conservation & Management ANIM3353 (coordinator)
Behavioural Ecology ANIM3365 (lectures)
Darwinian Revolution ANIM2001 (guest lecture)
Graduate Research Coordinator, School of Biological Sciences


My main interests lie in the field of behavioural ecology. I am particularly interested in the evolution and dynamics of cooperative breeding behaviour. My research involves understanding the causes of helping behaviour, and the costs and consequences of such behaviour. I have an increasing interest in long-term population dynamics, host-brood parasite interactions in cooperative systems, and the complexity of interspecific interactions. I also work at the interface between behavioural ecology and conservation biology - using behavioural information to provide more informed conservation decisions.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research expertise keywords

  • Behavioural ecology
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Cooperative breeding
  • Social evolution
  • Conservation and climate change


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