Emily Churchill

Emily Churchill


Discretionary Member



I'm a behavioural ecologist investigating the effects of the physical and social environment on Drosophila physiology, fitness and reproductive behaviours. My current research focuses on the impact of resource patchiness and rival presence on egg-laying decisions. I want to understand what drives female Drosophila to alter their egg site locations, and when and how they opt to compete or cooperate.


2017-2021: PhD "Disentangling the roles of social and physical environment in driving reproductive plasticity", University of Plymouth
2017-2018: PDAP, University of Plymouth
2016-2017: PGCE Secondary Biology (Sciences), University of Exeter
2014-2016: MSc (by Research) Biology, University of York
2011-2014: BSc (Hons) Biology, University of York

Professional membership

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
British Ecological Society



Research interests

I am interested in understanding how varying physical and social environments affect reproductive behaviours, physiology and life histories - using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. I am particularly interested in understanding how exposure to conspecifics impacts oviposition decisions, and the mechanisms involved with the process. We know that females and their larvae are able to cooperate in their resources acquisition, but we do not yet fully understand the fitness consequences of this cooperation.

My PhD research focused on the effect of local-scale spatial distribution of resources, on sperm competition-linked responses. I highlighted that spatial heterogeneity is a likely driver for the responses in wild living populations. This work followed the research I completed during my MSc, where I uncovered fitness effects of age, sperm competition and nutritional stress.




Churchill, E. R., Bridle, J. R. & Thom, M. D. F. (2020) 'Spatially clustered resources increase male aggregation and mating duration in Drosophila melanogaster'. Animal Behaviour, 169, pp. 45-50.

Churchill, E. R., Dytham, C. & Thom, M. D. F. (2019) 'Differing effects of age and starvation on reproductive performance in Drosophila melanogaster'. Scientific Reports, 9 (1), pp. 2167.