Dr Katherine Herborn

Dr Katherine Herborn

Lecturer in Physiology and Behaviour

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)



Teaching interests

I predominantly teach in the areas of animal physiology, behaviour and welfare.

I am programme lead for MSc Zoo Conservation Biology https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/msc-zoo-conservation-biology

I am module lead for:

  • BIOL133 - Principles of Physiology (Year 1 Biological Sciences/Animal Behaviour & Welfare/Conservation Biology)
  • ANIM5006 - Contemporary Zoo Management (MSc ZCB)
  • ANIM5008 - Conservation, Ecology & Society (MSc ZCB)
  • ANIM5009 - Zoo Animal Health, Nutrition & Management (MSc ZCB)



Research interests

I am a behavioural ecologist/applied ethologist interested in developing methods to score behaviour, stress and emotional state in animals. In chickens, I use thermal imaging, acoustic monitoring and video analysis as non-invasive, animal-centred tools for assessing welfare. In wild birds, I apply the same techniques to instead explore life history trade-offs between individuals with different behavioural/thermal strategies.

Other research

In collaboration with Drs Jon Einar Jonsson (University of Iceland), Ruedi Nager (University of Glasgow), Dominic McCafferty (University of Glasgow), Andreas Nord (Lund University) and Alan Millard (University of Plymouth), I am currently exploring trade-offs between acute stress and incubation in Icelandic Eider ducks.

With Dr Lucy Asher (PI) at the University of Newcastle, I am collaborating with Dr Dan Franks (University of York), Lakes Free Range and FAI farms in a project investigating laying hen flock behaviour.

I am working with Dr Kathryn Arnold's research group (University of York) to explore the effects of antidepressant exposure from sewage treatment plants on Starling behaviour and physiology.



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Kappel S, Ramirez Montes De Oca MA, Collins S, Herborn K, Mendl M & Fureix C (2023) 'Do you see what I see? Testing horses’ ability to recognise real-life objects from 2D computer projections' Animal Cognition , DOI Open access
McCafferty DJ, Koprowski R, Herborn K, Tattersall GJ, Jerem P & Nord A (2021) 'Editorial: Advances in thermal imaging' Journal of Thermal Biology 102, 103109-103109 , DOI
Herborn KA, McElligott AG, Mitchell MA, Sandilands V, Bradshaw B & Asher L (2020) 'Spectral entropy of early-life distress calls as an iceberg indicator of chicken welfare' Journal of The Royal Society Interface 17, (167) 20200086-20200086 , DOI Open access
James C, Asher L, Herborn K & Wiseman J (2018) 'The effect of supplementary ultraviolet wavelengths on broiler chicken welfare indicators' Applied Animal Behaviour Science 209, 55-64 , DOI Open access
Herborn KA, Jerem P, Nager RG, McKeegan DEF & McCafferty DJ (2018) 'Surface temperature elevated by chronic and intermittent stress' Physiology and Behavior 191, 47-55 , DOI Open access
Jerem P, Jenni-Eiermann S, Herborn K, McKeegan D, McCafferty DJ & Nager RG (2018) 'Eye region surface temperature reflects both energy reserves and circulating glucocorticoids in a wild bird' Scientific Reports 8, (1) , DOI Open access
Henderson LJ, Evans NP, Heidinger BJ, Herborn KA & Arnold KE (2017) 'Do glucocorticoids predict fitness? Linking environmental conditions, corticosterone and reproductive success in the blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus' Royal Society Open Science 4, (10) 170875-170875 , DOI Open access
Larcombe SD, Herborn KA, Alexander L & Arnold KE (2017) 'Dietary antioxidants in life-history trade-offs: differential effects of a-tocopherol supplementation on blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus mothers and offspring during reproduction' Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 122, (2) 313-328 , DOI
Heidinger BJ, Herborn KA, Granroth-Wilding HMV, Boner W, Burthe S, Newell M, Wanless S, Daunt F & Monaghan P (2016) 'Parental age influences offspring telomere loss' Functional Ecology 30, (9) 1531-1538 , DOI
Arnold KE, Herborn KA, Henderson LJ, Adam A, Alexander L & Evans N (2016) 'Individual variation in corticosterone and personality traits in the blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus' Behaviour 153, (13-14) 1611-1637 , DOI
Jerem P, Herborn K, McCafferty D, McKeegan D & Nager R (2015) 'Thermal Imaging to Study Stress Non-invasively in Unrestrained Birds' Journal of Visualized Experiments (105) , DOI Open access
Herborn KA, Daunt F, Heidinger BJ, Granroth-Wilding HMV, Burthe SJ, Newell MA & Monaghan P (2015) 'Age, oxidative stress exposure and fitness in a long‐lived seabird' Functional Ecology 30, (6) 913-921 , DOI
Herborn KA, Graves JL, Jerem P, Evans NP, Nager R, McCafferty DJ & McKeegan DEF (2015) 'Skin temperature reveals the intensity of acute stress' Physiology & Behavior 152, 225-230 , DOI
Granroth-Wilding HMV, Burthe SJ, Lewis S, Herborn KA, Takahashi EA, Daunt F & Cunningham EJA (2015) 'Indirect effects of parasitism: costs of infection to other individuals can be greater than direct costs borne by the host' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282, (1811) 20150602-20150602 , DOI
Arnold KE, Herborn KA, Adam A & Alexander L (2014) 'Individual variation in the oxidative costs of personality traits' Functional Ecology 29, (4) 522-530 , DOI
Bean TG, Boxall ABA, Lane J, Herborn KA, Pietravalle S & Arnold KE (2014) 'Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 369, (1656) 20130575-20130575 , DOI
Granroth-Wilding HMV, Burthe SJ, Lewis S, Reed TE, Herborn KA, Newell MA, Takahashi EA, Daunt F & Cunningham EJA (2014) 'Parasitism in early life: environmental conditions shape within‐brood variation in responses to infection' Ecology and Evolution 4, (17) 3408-3419 , DOI Open access
Herborn KA, Heidinger BJ, Boner W, Noguera JC, Adam A, Daunt F & Monaghan P (2014) 'Stress exposure in early post-natal life reduces telomere length: an experimental demonstration in a long-lived seabird' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281, (1782) 20133151-20133151 , DOI Open access
Coakley CM, Staszewski V, Herborn KA & Cunningham EJA (2014) 'Factors affecting the levels of protection transferred from mother to offspring following immune challenge' Frontiers in Zoology 11, (1) 46-46 , DOI Open access
Herborn KA, Heidinger BJ, Alexander L & Arnold KE (2014) 'Personality predicts behavioral flexibility in a fluctuating, natural environment' Behavioral Ecology 25, (6) 1374-1379 , DOI
Herborn KA, Coffey J, Larcombe SD, Alexander L & Arnold KE (2011) 'Oxidative profile varies with personality in European greenfinches' Journal of Experimental Biology 214, (10) 1732-1739 , DOI
Herborn K, Alexander L & Arnold KE (2010) 'Colour cues or spatial cues? Context-dependent preferences in the European greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)' Animal Cognition 14, (2) 269-277 , DOI
Herborn KA, Macleod R, Miles WTS, Schofield ANB, Alexander L & Arnold KE (2010) 'Personality in captivity reflects personality in the wild' Animal Behaviour 79, (4) 835-843 , DOI
Conference Papers
Heidinger BJ, Herborn KA, Boner W, Noguera JC, Adam A, Daunt F & Monaghan P (2014) 'Long-term costs of early stress exposure: are telomeres an important link?' E87-E87
Other Publications
Thermal Imaging to Study Stress Non-invasively in Unrestrained Birds. MyJove Corporation , DOI


Other academic activities

Associate editor for Proceedings B.

Guest editor for Journal of Thermal Biology special issue: "Advances in thermal imaging" (https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-thermal-biology/call-for-papers/advances-in-thermal-imaging-research-applications )