School of Life Sciences

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Tom Reader

Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



2018 - present. Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.

2009 - 2018. Lecturer, University of Nottingham.

2004 - 2009. University Teacher, University of Nottingham.

2002 - 2003. Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Sydney.

1997 - 2001. PhD, Zoology Dept, Cambridge University.

1994 - 1997. BSc (hons) Biological Sciences, Lancaster University.

Teaching Summary

I teach a range of modules in ecology, behaviour and statistics, and I am responsible for running the four year MSci degree.

I believe that teaching and research are critically dependent on one another, and I get immense satisfaction from both parts of my job. I am Deputy Head of Teaching in the School of Life Sciences, and hold two Dearing Awards for excellence in teaching.

The Behaviour and Ecology Research Group has worked together with undergraduate students to publish a wide range of primary research papers over the years. For more information, see our website:

My teaching occurs in three main areas:

1) I teach population and behavioural ecology to second year undergraduates (in Ecology, C12338), the fundamentals of adaptation by natural selection to third years (in Evolution and Behaviour, C13583), and the conservation biology of invasive species (in Conservation, C13696). I also co-convene the Behavioural Ecology Field Course (C12466) in Portugal.

2) I teach statistics and experimental design to students in all years of their undergraduate degree, and act as statistical advisor to many postgraduates. The core principle I teach is that good research is not possible without a proper understanding of the likelihood of data arising by chance under the null hypothesis. Relevant modules I convene are: Experimental Design and Analysis 1 (C11111); Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis (C14703).

3) I am responsible for the running of the four-year MSci degree. I teach students transferable research skills (in Research Presentation Skills, C14705) and convene the fourth year project (C14707).

Research Summary

I am an evolutionary and behavioural ecologist, with two main research interests...

First, I am fascinated by the evolution of animal signals, both visual and acoustic, and in particular by Batesian mimicry and aposematism. My research focuses on trying to explain the evolutionary forces shaping signal variation, both within and among species. I do this using a combination of behavioural experiments, mathematical models and even the odd bit of 3D printing.

Second, I am interested in the conservation of reebed biodiversity. Reedbeds, both natural and those "constructed" for wastewater treatment, are home to tremendous animal and plant diversity, with many specilist and rare species. One species of special interest to me is the harvest mouse (Micromys minutus), which seems to be more of a wetland specialist than it is a creature of arable farmland. We don't really understand the conservation status of this iconic species, or how it has been impacted by recent changes in land-use and agriculture.

In addition to field biology and theoretical ecology, I teach statistics at all levels in the School of Life Sciences, and have led a cross-disciplinary research project aimed at improving teaching and learning of statistics at University.

You can find out more about my research and opportunities for students on my personal website:

Selected Publications

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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