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Animal behaviour

I am an evolutionary biologist with a strong interest in explaining variation in animal behaviour. The main model system for my research is the fowl (red junglefowl and domestic fowl).

My main current research questions is:

Why do animals have personality?

However, I am also interested in research questions that fall within the following areas:

Sexual selection and sexual conflict

Kin recognition and genetic incompatibility

The use of the fowl as a model species more generally

Photo of a hen and chickensWhy do animals have personality? Despite the potential benefit offered by full plasticity in behavioural responses, we commonly find that behavioural responses are consistent within individuals over time and/or context. This consistent variation in behaviour among individuals is called 'animal personality'. I am interested in the proximate and ultimate questions surrounding the evolution of personality, such as why individuals have personality, and the consequences it has. Thus, my research seeks to provide answers relating to the evolutionary origin, development and maintenance of variation in personality. In my group we are currently particularly interested on the interplay between personality and social status, and the potential interplay between personality and variation in cognition. For the latter we investigate variation in, and links to variation in personality, in for example learning speed, cognitive judgement bias and optimism.

Tuppar som slåss

The fowl is a great model for research on animal personality for various reasons, for example, we know a lot about their behaviours, life-history, physiology and genetics, they are easily habituation to humans enabling close observations and handling. I primarily use the fowl as the model for my research on animal personality, but I also use other species (e.g. beetles, cows and more recently sticklebacks).


Sexual selection and sexual conflict –what predicts the outcome of a copulation? My previous research (and this is still a research interest of mine) investigated pre- and post-copulatory processes and mechanisms. In polyandrous species, the outcome of a copulation can be influenced by mechanisms occuring both before and after insemination, including competition over access to partners, partner choice, sperm competition and cryptic female choice. Further, sex-specific and counteracting responses may take place.

Höna och tuppThe fowl is particularly well-suited for studies of sexual selection because they are promiscuous and females store sperm in thousands of sperm storage organs for  weeks creating intense sperm competition and the potential for cryptic female choice. And both sexes respond to this in sophisticated ways; males allocate sperm strategically dependent on a range of cues (e.g. their own status, female quality) and females by biasing their sperm use (e.g. by ejecting ejaculates from non-preferred males). How males allocate sperm strategically and females bias sperm use is however still unclear to us.

HönaKin recognition, genetic incompatibility and kin selection. Inbreeding, when closely related individuals breed, may impose costs to individuals.  Particularly the sex investing most in the offspring (typically females) should consider avoiding this cost, which may create sex-specific responses to genetic similarity between partners. I am interested in how individuals are able to recognise genetic similarity, and how this affects decision-making.


The use of the fowl as a model species more generally. Beyond the research areas mentioned above, I believe that the red junglefowl and domestic fowl are exceptional models for a range of questions where an experimental approach is beneficial. This includes research using fowl to investigate olfaction in birds, as a model for bird vision, and as a predator to help improve our understanding of predator-prey interactions.


Past and present collaborations

Tom Pizzari, University of Oxford

Stu Wigby, University of Oxford

David Richardson, University of East-Anglia

Becky Dean, University College London

Olof Leimar, Stockholm University

Tommy Radesäter, Stockholm University

Christer Wiklund, Stockholm University

Sven Jakobsson, Stockholm University

Birgitta Tullberg, Stockholm University

Göran Arnqvist, Uppsala University

Anders Ödeen, Uppsala University

Svante Winberg, Uppsala University

Alexei Maklakov, Uppsala University

Urban Friberg, Linköping University


Frigående höns

Free-ranging fowl at Tovetorp Zoological research station (Stockholm University).

Hanne Lövlie

Name: Hanne Løvlie
Title: Senior lecturer/Associate professor
Department: IFM Biology



Ph: +46 (0)13 286681
E-mail: hanne.lovlie@liu.se

Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology
Linköping University
S 581 83 Linköping

Page manager: maria.hoffstedt@liu.se
Last updated: Wed May 25 12:55:09 CEST 2016