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Queen's University

Bob Montgomerie

Professor and Research Chair in Evolutionary Biology

More than 140 years ago, Charles Darwin suggested that some plant and animal features might help individuals to obtain mates, even though those traits were detrimental to survival. Such ‘sexually selected’ traits, he said, are thus very different from survival traits that resulted from natural selection. Even though this was a major scientific discovery, it was largely ignored for more than a century for both sociological and scientific reasons. The past 30 years, though, has seen a major resurgence of interest in sexual selection due to the development of both sophisticated theories that make a variety of interesting predictions and new experimental, molecular and observational techniques that allow us to thoroughly test those theories.

Our research focuses on both precopulatory (mate attraction and choice) and postcopulatory (fertilization) traits of animals to test and develop theory that will help us to better explain the diversity of animals that have evolved as a result of sexual selection. Our current research projects address three general questions: (1) Why is there so much variation in colour within and among species of birds? (2) why do birds sing at dawn? and (3) How do male and female gametes interact to determine the fertilisation success of males?

»»  Research Group Website »« email: »« phone: 613-533-6127  »«   office: BioSciences 3522 ««

Some Recent Publications:


Birkhead T, Wimpenny J, Montgomerie R. 2014. Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology after Darwin. in press, Princeton University Press. website here

Popular Articles

  • Birkhead T, Montgomerie R. 2014. School for Scandal. Times Higher Education. 4 August
  • Montgomerie R, Birkhead TR. 2005. A beginner's guide to scientific misconduct. Newsletter of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology 17:16-24. (reprinted in newsletter of ASAB, ABS, and German Ethological Society)
  • Lyon BE, Montgomerie R. 2004. Dirty little secrets. Natural History 113:18-22.

Papers and chapters

  • Chaine A, Montgomerie R, Lyon BE. 2014. Sexual conflict and extrapair paternity. In Gavrilets S, Rice W (eds). Sexual Conflict. Cold Spring harbour Press (in press)
  • Calhim S, Montgomerie R. 2014. Testes asymmetry in birds: the influences of sexual and natural selection. Journal of  Avian Biology (in press)
  • Dakin R, Montgomerie R. 2014. Condition-dependent mate assessment and choice by peahens: implications for sexual selection. Behavioral Ecology doi:10.1093/beheco/aru087
  • Dakin R, Montgomerie R. 2014. Deceptive copulation calls attract female visitors to peacock leks. American Naturalist 183:558-64  doi: 10.1086/675393
  • Dakin R, Montgomerie R. 2013. Eye for an eyespot: how iridescent plumage ocelli influence peacock mating success. Behavioural Ecology 24: 1048-1057 doi: 10.1093/beheco/art045
  • Lyon BE, Montgomerie R. 2012. Sexual selection is a form of social selection. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London  B 367:2266-2273
  • Tobias J, Lyon BE, Montgomerie R. 2012. Social selection in females. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 367:2274-229
  • English P, Montgomerie R. 2011. Robin’s egg blue: does egg color influence male parental care? for Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, online Nov 2010: DOI: 10.1007/s00265-010-1107-9.
  • Montgomerie R 2011. The end of behavioural ecology. Evolution doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01192.x [invited essay and book review]
  • Montgomerie R, Lyon B. 2011. Snow Bunting. In  The Birds of North America ON-LINE, No. 198 (A Poole and F Gill eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Montgomerie R, Lyon B. 2011. McKay’s Bunting. In  The Birds of North America ON-LINE, No. 199 (A Poole and F Gill eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Montgomerie R. 2010. Sexual conflict and the intromittent organs of male birds. Pp 453-470 in Leonard, J. Genitalia. Oxford Univ Press, Oxford.
  • Venturelli P, Murphy C, Shuter BJ, Johnston TA, deGroot PJ, Boag PJ, Casselman J, Montgomerie R, Weigand MD, Leggett WC. 2010. Maternal influences on population dynamics: evidence from an exploited freshwater fish. Ecology 91:2003-2012. doi: 10.1890/09-1218
  • Martin PR, Montgomerie R, Lougheed SC. 2010. Rapid sympatry explains greater rapid color pattern divergence in high latitude birds. Evolution 64:336-347.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000