Staff Directory

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01522 88 6835
University of Lincoln
Brayford Pool
United Kingdom

About Sheena Cotter

I am an evolutionary ecologist. My research interests are in the area of physiological and genetic life-history trade-offs; particularly in understanding how organisms evolve to defend themselves against attacks from other organisms and how they trade-off the costs of those defences with life-history traits such as longevity and reproduction. I use a combination of behavioural, physiological, quantitative and molecular genetic approaches to address these questions, using insects as model systems. My major focus is on the costs of immunity: Which factors have shaped the evolution of immunity in insects? Immunity to parasites and pathogens is an important life history trait. Natural selection should favour individuals with stronger immune systems. However, trade-offs could alter the optimal level of investment in immunity, and patterns of investment may be further influenced by the nutrients available in the diet.

Department Responsibilities

Module coordinator for Animal Nutrition (BIO2036M) Module coordinator for Plant-Animal Interactions (BIO2039M) Chair of the Athena SWAN committee I lecture on Forensic Entomology, Evolutionary Ecology, Health and Disease and Veterinary Parasitology Field course teaching: Malham field course, Kew Gardens trip, Chile field course

Subject Specialism

Evolutionary ecology


  • PG cert Higher Education Teaching — Queen’s University Belfast, 2015
  • PhD Ecology — University of Stirling, 2002
  • BSc Zoology (Hons) — University of Liverpool, 1997


Associate editor for the Journal of Animal Ecology Associate editor for Ecological Entomology

Orcid ID


Research Interests

  • animal behaviour

  • Behavioural Ecology

  • ecological immunology

  • host-parasite interactions

  • insects

  • nutritional ecology

  • Sexual selection

  • social evolution

Research Groups Memberships

Research Projects

  • Host Pathogen interactions as a resource competition problem — awarded £472000 by BBSRC in 2012
  • Individual variation in the costs of molecular parental investment: cooperation, conflict and mutualism in family life — awarded £413000 by NERC in 2011
  • Immune function versus reproduction: the mediation of life history trade-offs in a risky environment — awarded £277000 by NERC in 2010
  • Understanding density-dependent disease resistance in insects — awarded £25000 by NERC in 2008
  • Hormones and Immunity in Insects — awarded £15000 by Royal Society in 2007

Research in the Lincoln Repository

Professional Affiliations