Dr Sarah Collins

Dr Sarah Collins

Associate Head of School for Marketing, Recruitment and Outreach

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

Dr Sarah Collins can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal communication
  • Mate choice (birds and humans)
  • Acoustic communication
  • Bird vocalisations


Associate head of School Recruitment and Marketing

Associate Professor in Animal Behaviour & Welfare 

Admissions Tutor School of Biology Subject Group


1984-1987: BSc (Psychology/Zoology jt Hons),

1988-1992: DPhil (Oxon)

1992 - 1995: Postdoc - University of Oxford, and later Institute of Zoology, London.

1995 - 1998: University of Leiden (Marie Curie Sklodowska Fellowship)

1998 - 2004: Lecturer in Animal Behaviour (University of Nottingham)

2001: Awarded Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice

2005 - Present: University of Plymouth

Professional membership

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (member and consulting editor)

Key publications

To AWY, Dingle C & Collins SA (2021) 'Multiple constraints on urban bird communication: both abiotic and biotic noise shape songs in cities' Behavioral Ecology 32, (5) 1042-1053 , DOI Open access
View all publications


Teaching interests

Animal Behaviour, Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation



Research interests

Male competition and female choice
Welfare in birds
Meaning of sounds 
Stress and learning in mice

Other research

Cognition Institute

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Tabitha Luddem - (1999- 2003) PhD - University of Nottingham. Mate choice in cordon-bleu finches

Deborah Benham - (2001 - 2005) PhD University of Nottingham. Tourism and Animal Welfare : Sea Otters in Monterey bay

Ann Fitchett - (2002 - 2006 ) PhD University Of Nottingham. Dominance and stress in mice



Key publications

To AWY, Dingle C & Collins SA (2021) 'Multiple constraints on urban bird communication: both abiotic and biotic noise shape songs in cities' Behavioral Ecology 32, (5) 1042-1053 , DOI Open access

Key publications are highlighted

Collins SA, Croft S, Jeffs C, Brown S & de Kort SR (2023) 'Recovery of cirl bunting, <i>Emberiza cirlus</i>, song diversity after translocation' Conservation Science and Practice 6, (1) , DOI Open access
Collins SA, Lane SM, Ishibashi M & Hamston T (2023) 'Nest material preferences in wild hazel dormice Muscardinus avellanarius: testing predictions from optimal foraging theory' Behavioral Ecology , DOI Open access
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
To AWY, Dingle C & Collins SA (2021) 'Multiple constraints on urban bird communication: both abiotic and biotic noise shape songs in cities' Behavioral Ecology 32, (5) 1042-1053 , DOI Open access
Mellor E, Brilot B & Collins S (2017) 'Abnormal repetitive behaviours in captive birds: a Tinbergian review' Applied Animal Behaviour Science , DOI Open access
Campbell KJ, Farah D, Collins S & Parsons NJ (2015) 'Sex determination of African Penguins<i>Spheniscus demersus</i>using bill measurements: method comparisons and implications for use' Ostrich 87, (1) 47-55 , DOI
Leedale AE, Collins SA & de Kort SR (2015) 'Blackcaps (<i>Sylvia atricapilla</i>) increase the whistle part of their song in response to simulated territorial intrusion' ETHOLOGY 121, (4) 403-409 , DOI
Collins SA, de Kort SR, Perez-Tris J & Luis Telleria J (2011) 'Divergent sexual selection on birdsong: a reply to Byers' ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR 82, (5) E4-E7 , DOI
Hanley ME, Collins SA & Swann C (2011) 'Advertising acceptability: is mollusk olfaction important in seedling selection?' PLANT ECOLOGY 212, (4) 727-731 , DOI
Collins SA, de Kort SR, Pérez-Tris J & Tellería JL (2009) 'Migration strategy and divergent sexual selection on bird song' Proc Biol Sci 276, (1656) 585-590 Author Site , DOI
Barnard CJ, Collins SA, Daisley JN & Behnke JM (2009) 'Immunodepression reduces learning performance in male laboratory mice (<i>Mus musculus</i>)' PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR 96, (2) 362-369 , DOI
Collins SA, Archer JA & Barnard CA (2008) 'Welfare and mate choice in zebra finches: effect of handling regime and presence of cover' ANIMAL WELFARE 17, (1) 11-17
Barnard CJ, Collins SA, Daisley JN & Behnke JM (2006) 'Odour learning and immunity costs in mice' Behavioural Processes 72, (1) 74-83
Collins SA (2005) 'A biologist's guide to statistics' Journal of Biogeography 32, (4) 737-737 , DOI
Barnard CJ, Collins SA, Daisley JN & Behnke JM (2005) 'Maze performance and immunity costs in mice' Behaviour 142, 241-263
Fitchett AE, Collins SA, Barnard CJ & Cassaday HJ (2005) 'Subordinate male mice show long-lasting differences in spatial learning that persist when housed alone' Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 84, (3) 247-251
Fitchett AE, Collins SA, Mason H, Barnard CJ & Cassaday HJ (2005) 'Urinary corticosterone measures: Effects of strain and social rank in BKW and CD-1 mice' Behavioural Processes 70, (2) 168-176
Luddem ST, Collins SA, Brooks MA & Winter M (2004) 'Some males are choosier than others: Species recognition in blue waxbills' Behaviour 141, 1021-1039
Collins SA & Missing C (2003) 'Vocal and visual attractiveness are related in women' Animal Behaviour 65, 997-1004
Shuker D, Bateson N, Breitsprecher H, O'Donovan R, Taylor H, Barnard C, Behnke J, Collins S & Gilbert F (2002) 'Mating behavior, sexual selection, and copulatory courtship in a promiscuous beetle' Journal of Insect Behavior 15, (5) 617-631
Collins SA & Luddem ST (2002) 'Degree of male ornamentation affects female preference for conspecific versus heterospecific males' Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 269, (1487) 111-117
Collins SA, Gosling LM, Watkins RW & Cowan DP (2001) 'Artificially increasing scent mark rate increases urogenital gland size in mice Mus musculus' Physiology & Behavior 74, (4-5) 517-522
Gilbert F, Azmeh S, Barnard C, Behnke J, Collins SA, Hurst J & Shuker D (2001) 'Individually recognizable scent marks on flowers made by a solitary bee' Animal Behaviour 61, 217-229
Collins SA (2000) 'Men's voices and women's choices' Animal Behaviour 60, 773-780
Collins SA (1999) 'Is female preference for male repertoires due to sensory bias?' Proceedings of the Royal Society. Lond B 266, (1435) 2309-2314
Collins SA & Goldsmith AR (1998) 'Individual and species differences in quail calls (Coturnix c. japonica, c. c. coturnix and a hybrid)' Ethology 104, (12) 977-990
Collins SA, Gosling LM, Hudson J & Cowan D (1997) 'Does behaviour after weaning affect the dominance status of adult male mice (Mus domesticus)?' Behaviour 134, 989-1002
Gosling LM, Atkinson NW, Collins SA, Roberts RJ & Walters RL (1996) 'Avoidance of scent-marked areas depends on the intruder's body size' Behaviour 133, 491-502
Collins SA & tenCate C (1996) 'Does beak colour affect female preference in zebra finches?' Animal Behaviour 52, 105-112
Gosling LM, Atkinson NW, Dunn S & Collins SA (1996) 'The response of subordinate male mice to scent marks varies in relation to their own competitive ability' Animal Behaviour 52, 1185-1191
Collins SA (1995) 'The effect of recent experience on female choice in zebra finches' Animal Behaviour 49, (2) 479-486
Collins SA, Hubbard C & Houtman AM (1994) 'Female mate choice in the zebra finch: the effect of male beak color and male song' Behavioral Ecology 35, (1) 21-25
Collins SA (1994) 'Male displays: Cause of effect of femal preference' Animal Behaviour 48, (2) 371-375
Collins S (1993) 'Is there only one type of male handicap' Proceedings of the Royal Society. Lond B 252, (1335) 193-197
Collins SA (2004) 'Nature's Music' in Marler P; Slabbekoorn HW Nature's music Academic Press
COLLINS S (2004) 'Vocal fighting and flirting: the functions of birdsong' Nature's Music Elsevier 39-79 , DOI