Dr Keith McMahon

Dr Keith McMahon


Name: Dr Keith McMahon
Position: Postdoctoral Researcher
Email: Keith.mcmahon@zoo.ox.ac.uk


I studied Zoology in Trinity College Dublin and graduated from there in 2008. For my undergraduate thesis I studied the structure of temperate and tropical dawn choruses. This involved 2 months of field work in the Wakatobi islands of indonesia, which are just south of the island of Sulawesi. In 2010 I began a PhD, as part of the behavioral ecology group headed by Dr. Nicola Marples. I was  investigating the foraging behaviour of blue tits. I was particularly interested in diet choice in relation to novel food.

I have just successfully defended my PhD thesis, entitled Foraging plasticity in the blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus. I am now working as a research assistant in the EGI, working mainly with the social networks group.


My main area of interest is behavioural ecology, the research carried out during my PhD will hopefully add to the growing number of studies investigating how ecological conditions influence behaviour of wild animals. This is one of the most interesting aspects of zoological research for me. As is often the case animals do not always react to environmental conditions as we might expect. It is only by studying behaviour under a variety of ecological conditions that we can hope to understand more fully the processes that shape decision making and behavior in wild animals. I hope to continue working in this field for many years to come.


Bosse, M., L. G. Spurgin, V. N. Laine, E. F. Cole, J. A. Firth, P. Gienapp, A. G. Gosler, K. McMahon, J. Poissant and I. Verhagen (2019). “Response to Perrier and Charmantier: On the importance of time scales when studying adaptive evolution.”  3(3): 248.

Firth, J. A., E. F. Cole, C. C. Ioannou, J. L. Quinn, L. M. Aplin, A. Culina, K. McMahon, B. C. Sheldon and evolution (2018). “Personality shapes pair bonding in a wild bird social system.”  2(11): 1696.

Bosse, M., L. Spurgin, V. Laine, E. Cole, J. Firth and G. Gienapp, McMahon, Poissant, Verhagen, Groenan, van Oers, Sheldon, Visser, Slate  Science (2017). “Recent natural selection causes adaptive evolution of an avian polygenic trait.”  358(6361): 365-368.

McMahon, K. and N. Marples (2017). “Reduced dietary conservatism in a wild bird in the presence of intraspecific competition.”  48(3): 448-454.

McMahon, K., A. Conboy, E. O’Byrne-White, R. J. Thomas and N. M. Marples (2014). “Dietary wariness influences the response of foraging birds to competitors.”  89: 63-69.