Iker Vaquero-Alba

Postgrad Office, Centre for Ecology and Conservation

School of Biosciences

University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus

TR10 9EZ Penryn UK

My research interests lay in the behavioral ecology, for what I use the barn swallow Hirundo rustica as a model species. More exactly, I am interested in how the different signals (in terms of the costs they incur) the barn swallows use for sexual signaling purposes relate to the different survival challenges different subspecies of Hirundo rustica have to cope with in the different environments they inhabit. 

   My research includes observational as well as experimental work: manipulating the tail length as well as the reflectance of the breast feathers in order to measure the changes in fitness the birds undergo as a consequence of those changes, trying to quantify the importance of each type of signal in each environment  in terms of biological fitness. 


International Barn Swallow Research Group

Professor Matthew Evans

Provost, Professor of Behavioral Ecology

School of Biosciences

University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus

TR10 9EZ Penryn UK

General field of behavioural ecology, focussing on the costs and benefits of communication between organisms. For example, between males and females during mate choice. Specific studies have focussed on the aerodynamics of birds’ tails and the relationships between endocrine hormones, immunity and behaviour.   Increasingly working on conservation based issues particularly those that benefit from studies focussing on individual organisms rather than population studies. Recent work in this area has included research on the endemic Cape Sugarbird in South Africa and the chameleons in East Africa and the impact of domestic cat predation on birds and mammals. This translates into work on swallows in several areas – primarily I have been interested in the aerodynamic effects of the elongated tail streamers. Initial work focussed on costs but has also moved into the benefits of streamer elongation – the so-called Norberg effect, which produces an aerodynamic benefit of streamers in turning flight. This has recently produced results showing that the aerodynamically optimum streamer length conveys information about individual differences in male performance, while the extent of elongation beyond this conveys little information. I am also interested in the effects of changing land-use patterns and how this might produce landscape level relationships between foraging performance, streamer length and reproductive success.


Primary Investigator

Associated Students

Western Europe

Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology Research Group

at the University of Colorado - Boulder

Primary Investigator - Rebecca Safran

Dr. Rebecca Safran, Assistant Professor

University of Colorado at Boulder

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

CB334, Ramaley N395

Boulder, CO 80309

Office Phone :: (303) 735 - 1495


Western Europe