Dr Michael Thom

Dr Michael Thom

Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology

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

Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology



2014 - Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological & Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth

2008 - 2013: Teaching Fellow in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology, University of York

2003 - 2008: BBSRC Postdoctoral Research Associate, Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution Group, University of Liverpool

1995 - 1996: Environmental Consultant, Western Australia


2011: Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice, University of York

2011: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

2002: PhD, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford: "The mating system and behavioural ecology of American mink (Mustela vison)"

1995: BSc (Hons), First Class, Department of Zoology, University of Western Australia

Professional membership

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
Society for the Study of Evolution
International Society for Behavioral Ecology
The Genetics Society
European Society for Evolutionary Biology

Research interests

My research mainly focuses on the importance of sexual selection in shaping animal behaviour, physiology and morphology, and on the interplay between natural and sexual selection in population evolution. I am interested in understanding how males trade off various components of sexual selection to maximise reproductive success, and how this balance is influenced by varying environmental and social conditions and varying costs.

This work ties in to the related theme of behavioural plasticity, particularly plastic reproductive traits: how flexible is male behaviour, and when and why does the level of flexibility vary between individuals?

In connection with much of this work, I am also interested in understanding the genetic basis of key reproductive traits, particularly behavioural traits including plasticity.

Finally, I have longstanding research interest in individual recognition, and how this ability evolves and is maintained.

My research uses both empirical research on animal models, and a theoretical approach through agent-based modelling.

Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Dytham C & Thom MDF 2019 'Population fragmentation drives up genetic diversity in signals of individual identity' Oikos 129, (4) 526-532 , DOI Open access
Churchill ER, Dytham C & Thom MDF 2019 'Differing effects of age and starvation on reproductive performance in Drosophila melanogaster' Scientific Reports 9, Author Site , DOI Open access
Moatt JP, Dytham C & Thom MDF 2014 'Sperm production responds to perceived sperm competition risk in male Drosophila melanogaster' Physiology & Behavior 131, 111-114 , DOI
Stockley P, Ramm SA, Sherborne AL, Thom MDF, Paterson S & Hurst JL 2013 'Baculum morphology predicts reproductive success of male house mice under sexual selection' BMC Biol 11, Author Site , DOI
Moatt JP, Dytham C & Thom MDF 2013 'Exposure to sperm competition risk improves survival of virgin males' Biol Lett 9, (2) Author Site , DOI
Senior MJM, Hamer KC, Bottrell S, Edwards DP, Fayle TM, Lucey JM, Mayhew PJ, Newton R, Peh KS-H & Sheldon FH 2012 'Trait-dependent declines of species following conversion of rain forest to oil palm plantations' Biodiversity and Conservation 22, (1) 253-268 , DOI
Thom MDF & Dytham C 2012 'Female choosiness leads to the evolution of individually distinctive males' Evolution 66, (12) 3736-3742 Author Site , DOI
Claydon AJ, Thom MD, Hurst JL & Beynon RJ 2012 'Protein turnover: measurement of proteome dynamics by whole animal metabolic labelling with stable isotope labelled amino acids' Proteomics 12, (8) 1194-1206 Author Site , DOI
Vaughan JBT & Thom MDF 2012 'Do female zebrafish withhold reproductive resources for future mating opportunities?' Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 66, (6) 891-896 , DOI
Harrington LA, Harrington AL, Yamaguchi N, Thom MD, Ferreras P, Windham TR & Macdonald DW 2009 'The impact of native competitors on an alien invasive: temporal niche shifts to avoid interspecific aggression?' Ecology 90, (5) 1207-1216 Author Site , DOI
Thom MD, Stockley P, Jury F, Ollier WER, Beynon RJ & Hurst JL 2008 'The direct assessment of genetic heterozygosity through scent in the mouse' Curr Biol 18, (8) 619-623 Author Site , DOI
Sherborne AL, Thom MD, Paterson S, Jury F, Ollier WER, Stockley P, Beynon RJ & Hurst JL 2007 'The genetic basis of inbreeding avoidance in house mice' Curr Biol 17, (23) 2061-2066 Author Site , DOI
Cheetham SA, Thom MD, Jury F, Ollier WER, Beynon RJ & Hurst JL 2007 'The genetic basis of individual-recognition signals in the mouse' Curr Biol 17, (20) 1771-1777 Author Site , DOI
Hurst JL, Thom MD, Nevison CM, Humphries RE & Beynon RJ 2005 'MHC odours are not required or sufficient for recognition of individual scent owners' Proc Biol Sci 272, (1564) 715-724 Author Site , DOI
Thom MD & Hurst JL 2004 'Individual recognition by scent' ANNALES ZOOLOGICI FENNICI 41, (6) 765-787 Author Site
Thom MD, Harrington LA & Macdonald DW 2004 'Why are American mink sexually dimorphic? A role for niche separation' Oikos 105, (3) 525-535 , DOI
Thom MD, Macdonald DW, Mason GJ, Pedersen V & Johnson PJ 2004 'Female American mink, Mustela vison, mate multiply in a free-choice environment' Animal Behaviour 67, (5) 975-984 , DOI
Thom MD, Johnson DDP & MacDonald DW 2004 'The evolution and maintenance of delayed implantation in the mustelidae (mammalia: carnivora)' Evolution 58, (1) 175-183 Author Site , DOI
Dunlop SA, Roberts JD, Armstrong KN, Edwards SJ, Reynolds SJ, Thom MD & Beazley LD 1997 'Impaired vision for binocular tasks after unilateral optic nerve regeneration in the frog Litoria moorei' Behav Brain Res 84, (1-2) 195-201 Author Site , DOI
Churchill ER, Bridle JR & Thom MDF 'Spatially clustered resources increase male aggregation and mating duration in Drosophila melanogaster' Animal Behaviour Open access
Churchill ER, Dytham C, Bridle JR & Thom MDF 'Social and physical environment independently affect oviposition decisions in Drosophila melanogaster' , DOI
Conference Papers
Hurst JL, Thom MD, Cheetham SA, Armstrong SD, Robertson DH, Davidson AJ, Stockley P & Beynon RJ 2008 'Scent Signals of Individual Genetic Identity used in Mate Choice' S173-S173
MacDonald DW & Thom MD 2001 'Alien carnivores: unwelcome experiments in ecological theory' 93-122
Thom MD, Stockley P, Beynon RJ & Hurst JL 'Scent, Mate Choice and Genetic Heterozygosity' Springer New York 291-301 , DOI
Hurst JL, Thom MD, Nevison CM, Humphries RE & Beynon RJ 'The “scents” of ownership' Springer US 199-208 , DOI
Cheetham SA, Thom MD, Beynon RJ & Hurst JL 'The Effect of Familiarity on Mate Choice' Springer New York 271-280 , DOI
Thom MD, Beynon RJ & Hurst JL 'The role of the major histocompatibility complex in scent communication' Springer US 173-182 , DOI

Reports & invited lectures