Dr Chris Faulkes: Research Page

Dordabis, Namibia


Curriculum vitae

2009 - present : Reader in Evolutionary Ecology, Queen Mary, University of London.

2008 - present:  Extraordinary Professor, Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of Pretoria.

1998 - 2009 : Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Molecular Ecology & Evolution, Queen Mary, University of London.

1990-1998: Post-doctoral Research Scientist then Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.

1987-1990: PhD "Social Suppression of Reproduction in The Naked Mole-Rat, Heterocephalus glaber". Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London/University College London.

1984-1987: Research Project Leader, Dalgety UK Ltd.

Naked mole-rats in a nest chamber

   Chris Faulkes, Steve Le Comber & Nigel Bennett

- mole-rat hunting in Lesotho, 2010

Google Scholar Profile

Click here for background info on naked mole-rats

Meet The Sabre-Toothed Sausage (BBC News, Science and Environment)

Understanding Animal Research (Interview/link)


Naked mole-rats on David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities / Behind the scenes clip



Other Links

    African mole-rats: Ecology and Eusociality now available in paperback. Link to Amazon / Cambridge University Press

Research interests

My research interests broadly fall into mammalian evolution and, in particular, the evolution and maintenance of social and reproductive behaviour. This involves a multidisciplinary approach encompassing the fields of molecular ecology, molecular phylogenetics, reproductive physiology, neurobiology and behaviour. My specific study animals have focused mainly on the African mole-rats of the family Bathyergidae. The African mole-rats (Family: Bathyergidae) are extraordinary among mammals in the diversity and range of social strategies adopted by the member species. The ecological constraints acting upon these subterranean animals have resulted in a spectrum of social organisation ranging from solitary to eusocial (i.e., as in social insects). As such, the Bathyergidae offer a unique model system with which to address the evolution and maintenance of sociality and cooperative breeding. Furthermore, adaptations to life underground have resulted in many other extraordinary biological features, such as extreme longevity (30+ years in the naked mole-rat), an apparent resistance to cancer and insensitivity to certain kinds of pain. Two current areas of research of particular relevance to neuroscience and behaviour are (i) the role of neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vasopressin in the expression of social behaviour, and the genetics underlying species specific patterns of receptor expression of these and other neural substrates; (ii) the mechanisms underlying socially-induced reproductive suppression, whereby in naked mole-rats, social cues may cause the gonads of fully grown adults to be held in a potentially permanent, but reversible pre-pubertal state.

Click on highlighted areas for further information.

1. The evolution of sociality and biodiversity in the African mole-rats, Family Bathyergidae (In collaboration with Professor N.C. Bennett, University of Pretoria).

2. Genetics and comparative genomics of social behaviour (In collaboration with Professor N.C. Bennett, University of Pretoria & Professor Clive Coen, King's College London).

3. MHC gene evolution, parasites and social behaviour in African mole-rats  &  (In collaboration with Professor N.C. Bennett & Dr Heike Lutermann, University of Pretoria).

4.  Neurobiology of social behaviour (In collaboration with Professor Clive Coen, King's College London).

5. Genetic studies of wild common marmoset monkeys (In collaboration with Dr M.F. Arruda and Professor M.E. Yamamoto, University of Natal, Brazil; Dr M.A.O. Da Cruz, Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil).

6. Molecular ecology of Round Island petrels (In collaboration with Professor Richard Nichols and Ruth Brown, QMUL, Dr Carl Jones and Vikash Tatayah (Fauna Manager and PhD student), Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, and Dr Bill Jordan, Zoological Society of London.

7. Molecular ecology of UK small mammals  (With Professor John Gurnell, QMUL).

Contact Chris Faulkes:

School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK. Tel. 020-7882 3018; Fax 020-8882 0973; e-mail c.g.faulkes@qmul.ac.uk.

Site last updated Feb. 2013

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