The Behavioural Ecology Lab is a research lab integrated in the Animal Ecology Group, a cooperative assembly of research groups within the University of Vigo.

We aim to understand how natural selection shapes the life history and behaviour of wild animal populations. Our work focuses mainly on seabirds and sticklebacks living in natural systems  but has also involved studies on other invertebrates and vertebrate species. We are also interested in wildlife conservation and the consequences of human actions for the diversity (see our past research on the effects of the Prestige oil spill)

Most of our current research focuses on:

Gene expression and the evolution of complex phenotypes


Senescence in wild animals


Social evolution and family coadaptation


Seabird conservation


Current members
  Alberto Velando Sin-Yeon Kim Roxana Torres
  Náyade Álvarez Quintero Susana Cortés Manzaneque Alberto da Silva



See our last publications:




 Chiara V, Kim S-Y 2023.AnimalTA: A highly flexible and easy-to-use program for tracking and analysing animal movement in different environments. Methods in Ecology and Evolution  Early View
2 Justel-Díez M, Delgadillo-Nuño E, Gutiérrez-Barral A, García-Otero P, Alonso-Barciela I, Pereira-Villanueva P, Álvarez-Salgado  XA. Velando A, Teira E, Fernández E. 2023 Inputs of seabird guano alter microbial growth, community composition and the phytoplankton–bacterial interactions in a coastal system. Environmental Microbiology, Online Version.
  3 Ruiz-Raya F, Noguera, JC, Velando, A. 2023. Covariation between glucocorticoid levels and receptor expression modulates embryo development and postnatal phenotypes in gulls. Hormones and Behavior, 149, 105316.


Kim S-Y, Chiara V, Álvarez-Quintero N, Velando A. 2022. Mitochondrial DNA content in eggs as a maternal effect. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289: 20212100
2 Chiara V, Arrufat, P, Jeanson R. 2022. A variable refractory period increases collective performance in noisy environments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 119: e2115103119
  3 Ruiz-Raya F, Velando A. 2022. Sunlight and lifestyle: linking prenatal light conditions and personality development in a wild bird. Animal Behaviour 193: 13-20.
  4 Noguera, J.C., Velando, A. Maternal testosterone affects offspring telomerase activity in a long-lived seabird. Ecology & Evolution 12: e9281.
  5 Ruiz-Raya, F., Noguera, J. C.., Velando, A. Light received by embryos promotes postnatal junior phenotypes in a seabird. Behavioural Ecology  33:1047-1057.
  6 Chiara V, Velando A, Kim S-Y. 2022. Relationships between male secondary sexual traits, physiological state and offspring viability in the three-spined stickleback. BMC Ecology and Evolution 22:4
  7 Noguera, J.C. Sperm oxidative status varies with the level of sperm competition and affects male reproductive success. Animal Behaviour 189:83-89
8 Ruiz-Raya F, Abaurrea T, Vigo R, Soler M 2022. Physiological stress responses to non-mimetic model brood parasite eggs: leukocyte profiles and heat-shock protein Hsp70 levels. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology. 1-7
  9  Kim SY, Álvarez-Quintero N , Metcalfe NB. 2022. Does the match between individual and group behavior matter in shoaling sticklebacks? Ecology and Evolution 12: e8581


 Velando A, Noguera JC, Aira M, Dominguez J. 2021. Gut microbiome and telomere length in gull hatchlings. Biology Letters 17, 20210398
  2 Ruiz-Raya F, Ibáñez-Álamo JD, Parenteau C, Chastel O, Soler M. 2021. Prolactin mediates behavioural rejection responses to avian brood parasitism. J Exp Biol. 2021 oi: 10.1242/jeb.24010
3 Álvarez-Quintero N, Velando A and Kim S-Y. 2021. Smart mating: the cognitive ability of females influences their preference for male cognitive ability. Behavioral Ecology 10.1093/beheco/arab052
4 Noguera JC, Velando A. 2021. Telomerase activity can mediate the effects of growth on telomeres during post-natal development in a wild bird. Journal of Experimental Biology 224, jeb242465.
5 Noguera JC. 2021. Heterogenous effects of father and mother age on offspring development. Behavioral Ecology 32,349-358
  6 Álvarez-Quintero N, Chiara V, Kim S-Y. 2021. Trap versus net: behavioural sampling bias caused by capture method in three-spined sticklebacks. Behavioural Processes, 104504.
  7 Calado JG, Veríssimo SN, Paiva VH, Ramos R, Vaz PT, Matos D, Pereira J, Lopes C, Oliveira N, Quaresma A, Ceia FR, Velando A, Ramos JA. 2021. Influence of fisheries on the spatio-temporal feeding ecology of gulls along the western Iberian coast. Marine Ecology Progress Series 661, 187-201
  8 Ruiz-Raya F. 2021. Ecophysiology of egg rejection in hosts of avian brood parasites: new insights and perspectives Current Zoology  zoab042
  9 Álvarez-Quintero N, Velando A, Noguera JC, Kim S-Y. 2020. Environment‐induced changes in reproductive strategies and their transgenerational effects in the three‐spined stickleback. Ecology and Evolution, 11(2), 771-783.
2020 1 Noguera JC, da Silva, Velando A. 2020. Egg corticosterone can stimulate telomerase activity and promote longer telomeres during embryo development. Molecular Ecology in press
2 Noguera JC, Velando A. 2020. Gull chicks grow faster but lose telomeres when prenatal cues mismatch the real presence of sibling competitors. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 287, 20200242
  3 Kim S-Y, Velando A. 2020. Attractive male sticklebacks carry more oxidative DNA damage in the soma and germline. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 33,121-126
  4 Ruiz-Raya F, Soler M. 2020. Signal detection and optimal acceptance thresholds in avian brood parasite–host systems: implications for egg rejection. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences B 375: 20190477
  5 Álvarez-Quintero N,  Velando A,  Kim S-Y. 2020. Long-lasting negative effects of learning tasks during early life in the three-spined stickleback. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8, 313
6 Chiara, V., Jeanson, R. 2020. Influence of past and current social contexts on hunting behaviour in spiderlings. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobioloby 74, 87
7 Calado JG, Paiva VH, Ramos JÁ, Velando A, Munilla I. 2020. Anthropogenic food resources, sardine decline and environmental conditions have triggered a dietary shift of an opportunistic seabird over the last 30 years in the northwest coast of Spain. Regional Environmental Change 20, 10
  8 Roncalli G, Soler M, Tieleman BI, Versteegh MA, Ruiz‐Raya  F, Colombo  E, Gómez Sambla M,  Ibáñez‐Álamo JD. 2020. Immunological changes in nestlings growing under predation risk. Journal Avian Biology 51
  9 Calado JG , Paiva VH ,  Ceia FR, Gomes P,  Ramos JA,  Velando A. 2020. Stable isotopes reveal year-round sexual trophic segregation in four yellow-legged gull colonies. Marine Biology 167, 1-11
2019 1 Noguera JC, Velando A. 2019. Bird embryos perceive vibratory cues of predation risk from clutch mates. Nature Ecology and Evolution 3, 1225–1232


Velando, A., Noguera, J.C., da Silva, A., Kim, S-Y. 2019. Redox-regulation and life-history trade-offs: scavenging mitochondrial ROS improves growth in a wild bird. Scientific Reports 9,  2203


Kim S-Y, Noguera JC & Velando A. 2019. Carry-over effects of early thermal conditions on somatic and germline oxidative damages are mediated by compensatory growth in sticklebacks. Journal Animal Ecology 88, 473-483


Noguera, J.C. 2019. Crickets increase sexual signalling and sperm protection but live shorter in the presence of rivals. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 32, 42-57
5 Noguera JC, Velando A. 2019. Reduced telomere length in embryos exposed to predator cues. Journal of Experimental Biology 222: jeb216176
2018 1 Alvarez, G. Barros, A, Velando, A. 2018. The use of European shag pellets as indicators of microplastic fibers in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin 137, 444-448
2 Noguera JC, Metcalfe NB, Monaghan P. 2018. Experimental demonstration that offspring fathered by old males have shorter telomeres and reduced lifespans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 285 20180268
3 Morales J, Velando A. 2018. Coloration of chicks modulates costly interactions among family members. Behavioral Ecology  29, 894-903
4 Oro D, Álvarez D, Velando A. 2018. Complex demographic heterogeneity from anthropogenic impacts in a coastal marine predator. Ecological Applications 28, 612-621
5 Morales J, Lucas A, Velando A. 2018. Maternal programming of offspring antipredator behavior in a seabird. Behavioral Ecology 29, 479-485
6 Noguera JC, Aira M, Pérez-Losada M, Velando A. 2018. Glucocorticoids modulate gastrointestinal microbiome in a wild. Royal Society Open Science 5, 171743
2017 1 Noguera JC, Kim S-Y, Velando A. 2017. Family-transmitted stress in a wild bird. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 114:6794-6799
2 Velando A, Costa MM,  Kim S-Y. 2017. Sex-specific phenotypes and metabolism-related gene expression in juvenile sticklebacks. Behavioral Ecology 28, 1553–1563
3 Kim S-Y, Costa MM, Esteve-Codina A, Velando A. 2017. Transcriptional mechanisms underlying life-history responses to climate change in the three-spined stickleback. Evolutionary Applications 10:718-730
4 Kim S-Y, Metcalfe NB, da Silva A, Velando A. 2017. Thermal conditions during early life influence seasonal maternal strategies in the three-spined stickleback. BMC Ecology 17:34
5 Noguera JC, Metcalfe NB, Monaghan P. 2017. Postnatal nutrition influences male attractiveness and promotes plasticity in male mating preferences. The Science of Nature 104:102.
6 Díaz-Real J, Kim S-Y, Velando A. 2017. Plumage colour and the expression of stress-related genes in gull chicks. Journal Avian Biology 48, 1216-1225
7 Noguera JC. 2017. Interacting effects of early dietary conditions and reproductive effort on the oxidative costs of reproduction. PeerJ 5, e3094
8 Velando A, Moran P, Romero R, Fernandez J, Piorno V. 2017. Invasion and eradication of the American mink in the Atlantic Islands National Park (NW Spain): A retrospective analysis. Biological Invasions  19, 1227–1241



Barros A, Romero R, Munilla I, Pérez C, Velando A. 2016. Behavioural plasticity in nest-site selection of a colonial seabird in response to an invasive carnivore. Biological Invasions 18:3149–3161


Díaz-Real J, Kim S-Y, Velando A. 2016 Hatching hierarchy but not egg-related effects governs behavioral phenotypes in gull chicks. Behavioral Ecology 27, 1782-1789



Noguera JC, Metcalfe NB, Reichert S, Monaghan P. 2016. Embryonic and postnatal telomere length decrease with ovulation order within clutches. Scientific Reports 6, 25915


Kim S-Y, Metcalfe NB, Velando A. 2016. A benign juvenile environment reduces the strength of antagonistic pleiotropy and genetic variation in the rate of senescence. Journal of Animal Ecology, 85, 705-714.
5 Kim S-Y, Velando A. 2016. Unsociable juvenile male three-spined sticklebacks grow more attractive. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 70, 975-980
6 Munilla I, Genovart M, Paiva VH,  Velando A. 2016. Colony foundation in an oceanic seabird. PlosOne 11, e0147222

7 Kim S-Y. 2016. Fixed behavioural plasticity in response to predation risk in the three-spined stickleback. Animal Behaviour, 112, 147-152


Kim S-Y, Velando A. 2016. Genetic conflict between sexual signalling and juvenile survival in the three-spined stickleback.  BMC Evolutionary Biology, 16:52