Nutritional Ecology and Physiology Lab

What do we do?

Nutritional Ecology and Physiology Lab, led by Steve Simpson, studies the neural, physiological, ecological and evolutionary bases of animal behaviour. The group's emphasis is "bottom-up", in that we are especially concerned with the way in which lower-level processes lead to higher level outcomes. Our approach focuses on the behaviour of individual organisms and involves an interplay between theory and experiment. Most of our experimental work is on insects, although recent work has examined fish, birds and mammals - including humans. Techniques employed include the quantitative analysis of behaviour, neurophysiology, metabolic and digestive physiology, mathematical modelling, computer simulations and laboratory selection experiments.

Selected Publications and Features

Piper MDW, Partridge L, Raubenheimer D, and Simpson SJ. 2011. Dietary restriction and aging: a unifying perspective. Cell Metabolism 14:154-160.

Dussutour A, Latty T, Beekman M, and Simpson SJ. 2010. Amoeboid organism solves complex nutritional challenges. PNAS 107:4607-4611

  • Brainless behavior: a myxomycete chooses a balanced diet. 2010. PNAS 107:5267-5268
  • Dussutour A, and Simpson SJ. 2009. Communal nutrition in ants. Current Biology 19:740-744

  • Animal behaviour: feeding the superorganism. 2009. Current Biology 19:R366
  • Anstey ML, Rogers SM, Ott SR, Burrows M, and Simpson SJ. 2009. Serotonin mediates behavioral gregarization underlying swarm formation in desert locusts. Science 323:627-630

  • The key to Pandora's box. 2009. Science 323:594-595
  • Reynolds AM, Sword GA, Simpson SJ, and Reynolds DR. 2009. Predator percolation, insect outbreaks and phase polyphenism. Current Biology 19:20-24

  • Evolutionary ecology: old ideas percolate into ecology. 2009. Current Biology 19: R21-R23
  • Sensible swarming. 2009. Nature 457:132
  • Maklakov AA, Simpson SJ, Zajitschek F, Hall MD, Dessman J, Clissold F, Raubenheimer D, Bonduriansky R, and Brooks RC. 2008. Sex-specific fitness effects of nutrient intake on reproduction and lifespan. Current Biology 18:1062-1066

    Bazazi S, Buhl J, Hale JJ, Anstey ML, Sword GA, Simpson SJ, and Couzin ID. 2008. Collective motion and cannibalism in locust migratory bands. Current Biology 18:735-739

  • The hunger, the horror. 2008. New Scientist, May 31, p. 42-45
  • Lee KP, Simpson SJ, Clissold FJ, Brooks RC, Ballard JWO, Taylor PW, Soran N, and Raubenheimer D. 2008. Lifespan and reproduction in Drosophila: new insights from nutritional geometry. PNAS 105:2498-2503

    Warbrick-Smith J, Behmer ST, Lee KP, Raubenheimer D, and Simpson SJ. 2006. Evolving resistance to obesity in an insect. PNAS 103:14045-14049

    Buhl J, Sumpter DJT, Couzin ID, Hale JJ, Despland E, Miller E, and Simpson SJ. 2006. From disorder to order in marching locusts. Science 312:1402-1406

  • Align in the sand. Perspective. 2006. Science 312:1320-1322
  • March of the locusts. 2006. Nature 441:670
  • Simpson SJ, Sword GA, Lorch PD, and Couzin ID. 2006. Cannibal crickets on a forced march for protein and salt. PNAS 103:4152-4156

  • Push on the marching crickets. 2006. Nature 440:38
  • For a full list of publications visit Steve's webpage.

    For more news about the BPRG visit our media section.