Liverpool Skylilne

Natural Sciences and Psychology

Dr Hazel Nichols

Dr Hazel Nichols

Telephone: 0151 231 2376


My research interests centre on the evolution of cooperative animal societies. Cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. While a simple reading of natural selection as ‘survival of the fittest’ predicts that individuals will benefit from selfish, competitive behaviour, cooperation is not only commonplace within nature, but is of profound evolutionary and social significance. I work to reveal the causes of conflict between cooperative partners and the mechanisms that have evolved to resolve these conflicts. My work draws on a variety of biological disciplines, combining observational, biochemical, molecular ecological and genetic methods. This approach provides a powerful technique to reveal the important influences of reproductive success, kinship, inbreeding avoidance and environmental change on the evolution of cooperative animal societies.


2009, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, PhD in Zoology
2004, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, BSc Biology, 1st Class Hons

Academic appointments

Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, Liverpool John Moores University, 2012 - present
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cambridge, 2009 - 2012
Research Technician, University of Sheffield, 2004 - 2005


Journal article

Ottensmann M, Stoffel MA, Nichols HJ, Hoffman JI. 2018. GCalignR: An R package for aligning gas-chromatography data for ecological and evolutionary studies PLoS ONE, 13 >DOI

Wells DA, Cant MA, Nichols HJ, Hoffman JI. 2018. A high quality pedigree and genetic markers both reveal inbreeding depression for quality but not survival in a cooperative mammal. Molecular Ecology, >DOI >Link

Mitchell J, Kyabulima S, Businge R, Cant MA, Nichols HJ. 2018. Kin discrimination via odour in the cooperatively breeding banded mongoose Royal Society Open Science, >DOI

mitchell J, Cant MA, Nichols HJ. 2017. Pregnancy is detected via odour in a wild cooperative breeder Biology Letters, >DOI

Thompson F, Cant MA, Marshall HH, Vitikainen EIK, Sanderson JL, Nichols HJ, Gilchrist JS, Bell MBV, Young AJ, Hodge SJ, Johnstone RA. 2017. Explaining negative kin discrimination in a cooperative mammal society Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114 :5207-5212 >DOI

Vitikainen EIK, Marshall HH, Thompson FJ, Sanderson JL, Bell MBV, Gilchrist JS, Hodge SJ, Nichols HJ, Cant MA. 2017. Biased escorts: offspring sex, not relatedness explains alloparental care patterns in a cooperative breeder Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 :20162384-20162384 >DOI

Nichols HJ. 2017. The causes and consequences of inbreeding avoidance and tolerance in cooperatively breeding vertebrates Journal of Zoology, >DOI

Mitchell J, Cant MA, Vitikainen EIK, Nichols HJ. 2017. Smelling fit: scent marking exposes parasitic infection status in the banded mongoose Current Zoology, >DOI

Marshall H, Vitikainen EIK, Mwanguhya F, Businge R, Kyabulima S, Hares MC, Inzani E, Kalema-Zikusosa G, Mwesige K, Nichols HJ, Sanderson JL, Thompson FJ, Cant MA. 2017. Lifetime fitness consequences of early-life ecological hardship in a wild mammal population Ecology and Evolution, >DOI

Mitchell J, Vitikainen EIK, Wells DA, Cant MA, Nichols HJ. 2017. Heterozygosity but not inbreeding coefficient predicts parasite burdens in the banded mongoose Journal of Zoology, 302 :32-39 >DOI

Stoffel MA, Esser M, Kardos M, Humble E, Nichols HJ, David P, Hoffman JI. 2016. inbreedR: An R package for the analysis of inbreeding based on genetic markers Methods in Ecology and Evolution, >DOI

Vitikainen EIK, Cant MA, Sanderson JL, Mitchell C, Nichols HJ, Marshall HH, Thompson FJ, Gilchrist JS, Hodge SJ, Johnstone RA, Blount JD. 2016. Evidence of oxidative shielding offspring in a wild mammal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, >DOI

Amos W, Nichols HJ, Churchyard T, Brooke MDL. 2016. Rat eradication comes within a whisker! a case study of a failed project from the South Pacific Royal Society Open Science, 3 >DOI

Nichols HJ, Zecherle L, Arbuckle K. 2016. Patterns of philopatry and longevity contribute to the evolution of post-reproductive lifespan in mammals Biology Letters, 12 >DOI

Thompson FJ, Marshall HH, Sanderson JL, Vitikainen EIK, Nichols HJ, Gilchrist JS, Young AJ, Hodge SJ, Cant MA. 2016. Reproductive competition triggers mass eviction in cooperative banded mongooses Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283 >DOI

Inzani EL, Marshall HH, Sanderson JL, Nichols HJ, Thompson FJ, Kalema-Zikusoka G, Hodge SJ, Cant MA, Vitikainen EIK. 2016. Female reproductive competition explains variation in prenatal investment in wild banded mongooses Scientific Reports, 6 >DOI

Sanderson JL, Nichols HJ, Marshall HH, Vitikainen EIK, Thompson FJ, Walker SL, Cant MA, Young AJ. 2015. Elevated glucocorticoid concentrations during gestation predict reduced reproductive success in subordinate female banded mongooses Biology Letters, 11 >DOI

Nichols HJ, Cant MA, Sanderson JL. 2015. Adjustment of costly extra-group paternity according to inbreeding risk in a cooperative mammal Behavioral Ecology, >DOI

Sanderson JL, Wang J, Vitikainen EIK, Cant MA, Nichols HJ. 2015. Banded mongooses avoid inbreeding when mating with members of the same natal group Molecular Ecology, 24 :3738-3751 >DOI

Slight DJ, Nichols HJ, Arbuckle K. 2015. Are mixed diets beneficial for the welfare of captive axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum)? Effects of feeding regimes on growth and behavior Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 10 :185-190 >DOI

Nichols HJ, Cant MA, Hoffman JI, Sanderson JL. 2014. Evidence for frequent incest in a cooperatively breeding mammal BIOLOGY LETTERS, 10 >DOI >Link

Nichols HJ, Fullard K, Amos W. 2014. Costly sons do not lead to adaptive sex ratio adjustment in pilot whales, Globicephala melas Animal Behaviour, 88 :203-209

Cant MA, Nichols HJ, Johnstone RA, Hodge SJ. 2014. Policing of reproduction by hidden threats in a cooperative mammal PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 111 :326-330 >DOI >Link

Cant MA, Vitikainen E, Nichols HJ. 2013. Demography and social evolution of banded mongooses Advances in the Study of Behavior, 45 :407-445 >DOI

Nichols HJ, Jordan NR, Jamie GA, Cant MA, Hoffman JI. 2012. Fine-scale spatiotemporal patterns of genetic variation reflect budding dispersal coupled with strong natal philopatry in a cooperatively breeding mammal Molecular Ecology, 21 :5348-5362 >DOI

Bell MBV, Nichols HJ, Gilchrist JS, Cant MA, Hodge SJ. 2012. The cost of dominance: suppressing subordinate reproduction affects the reproductive success of dominant female banded mongooses. Proc Biol Sci, 279 :619-624 >DOI >Link

Nichols HJ, Amos W, Bell MBV, Mwanguhya F, Kyabulima S, Cant MA. 2012. Food availability shapes patterns of helping effort in a cooperative mongoose Animal Behaviour, 83 :1377-1385 >DOI

Nichols HJ, Bell MBV, Hodge SJ, Cant MA. 2012. Resource limitation moderates the adaptive suppression of subordinate breeding in a cooperatively breeding mongoose Behavioral Ecology, 23 :635-642 >DOI

Hoffman JI, Nichols HJ. 2011. A novel approach for mining polymorphic microsatellite markers in silico PLoS ONE, 6 >DOI

Nichols HJ, Amos W, Cant MA, Bell MBV, Hodge SJ. 2010. Top males gain high reproductive success by guarding more successful females in a cooperatively breeding mongoose Animal Behaviour, 80 :649-657 >DOI

Cant MA, Hodge SJ, Bell MBV, Gilchrist JS, Nichols HJ. 2010. Reproductive control via eviction (but not the threat of eviction) in banded mongooses Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 :2219-2226 >DOI

Hoffman JI, Dasmahapatra KK, Nichols HJ. 2008. PERMANENT GENETIC RESOURCES: Ten novel polymorphic dinucleotide microsatellite loci cloned from the Antarctic fur seal Arctocephalus gazella. Mol Ecol Resour, 8 :459-461 >DOI >Link

Hoffman JI, Dasmahapatra KK, Nichols HJ. 2008. Ten novel polymorphic dinucleotide microsatellite loci cloned from the Antarctic fur seal Arctocephalus gazella Molecular Ecology Resources, 8 :459-461 >DOI

Sheppard CE, Marshall HH, Inger R, Vitikainen EIK, Barker S, Nichols HJ, Wells DA, McDonald RA, Cant MA. Decoupling of genetic and cultural inheritance in a wild mammal Current Biology,


Cant MA, Nichols HJ, Thompson FJ, Vitikainen E. 2016. Banded mongooses: Demography, life history and social behavior Koenig WD, Dickinson JL. Cooperative Breeding in Vertebrates: Studies of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour :318-337 Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK

Conference publication

Arbuckle K, Nichols H, Wich S, Bethell EJ. 2015. LJMU R workshop 2015 R workshop