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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Chiara Benvenuto

Lecturer in Zoology


In 1999 I obtained my BSc/MSc in Biological Sciences at the Università degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy studying the population structure, growth and shell use in the hermit crab Clibanarius erythropus. I then moved to Portugal, to work in a project on the trophic ecology of freshwater fish in a temporary stream. Back in Italy, I worked for two years in a National Park, Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna, preparing an atlas of the biodiversity of the Park.

I obtained my PhD (2003-2008) from a dual program run by Kent State University and the University of Akron (Ohio, USA) investigating precopulatory mate guarding behaviours in clam shrimp as a case of intersexual conflict. I then spent one year (in 2010) as a post-doctoral Researcher in the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), in Sophia-Antipolis, France, looking at the effect of intra-specific hybridization on the success of invading species.

I was awarded an IRCSET (Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology) EMPOWER Fellowship for 2011-2012 and I moved to Ireland in the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, where I performed a study on the genetic and environmental bases of sex-change plasticity in a marine fish, the white seabream Diplodus sargus. I have been appointed as a Lecturer in Zoology at the University of Salford, School of Environment & Life Sciences in January 2013.


I am currently module leader for Marine Biology, Experimental Behavioural Ecology and Placement. I contribute to a series of modules, including Animal Evolution, Tropical Ecology and Conservation (including a 2-week field trip in the Brazilian Amazon), Field Biology, Biological skills (all lab based).

I am placement tutor for Wildlife and Zoology students.

Research Interests

I consider myself primarily a behavioural ecologist and I aim to integrate behavioural ecology with ecotoxicology, population ecology, population genetics and ecological modelling. I enjoy working with aquatic organisms and I am fascinated by the evolution of animal mating systems and strategies. I strongly believe that a deep knowledge of animal behaviours and mating strategies is fundamental in any program of conservation and management of biodiversity. Also, it is becoming more and more evident that anthropogenic changes are affecting behaviours and reproduction in many organisms. I am interested in understanding the effects of contaminants and acoustic pollution in aquatic organisms and to assess what behavioural changes can be used as biomarkers of stressors.

My current main research interests are: sequential hermaphroditism (sex-change) in fish and crustaceans; behavioural eco-toxicology; colour change; patterns of sex allocation/sex ratios; sex determining mechanisms; intersexual conflicts.

Qualifications and Memberships

1999 - Laurea (BSc/MSc equivalent) in Biological Sciences, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy

2008 - PhD in Aquatic Ecology, Kent State University – University of Akron, Ohio, USA

Associate Editor of Biology Methods & Protocols (

Member of:

- Italian Society for Evolutionary Biology (SIBE)

- International Society for Behavioral Ecology (ISBE)

- Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)

- European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB)

- The Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI)


Publications (since 2010). Underlined: students under my supervision.

Siegenthaler A., Mondal D., Benvenuto C. 2017. Quantifying pigment cover to address variation in animal colouration. Biology Methods & Protocols. 2(1); doi: 10.1093/biomethods/bpx003.

Mascolino S., Benvenuto C.,  Gubili C., Sacchi C.,  Boufana B., Mariani S. 2016. The ART of mating: alternative reproductive tactics and mating success in a nest-guarding fish. Journal of Fish Biology, 89: 2643–2657; doi:10.1111/jfb.13130.

Weeks S.C., Benvenuto C., Reed S.K., Duff R.J., Duan Z-H., David P. 2014.  A field test of a model for the stability of androdioecy in the freshwater shrimp, Eulimnadia texana. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27(10): 2080-2095.

Mariani S., Sala-Bozano M., Chopelet J., Benvenuto C. 2013. Spatial and temporal variation in size-at-sex-change in two exploited marine fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 96: 535-541.

Benvenuto C., Cheyppe-Buchmann S., Bermond G., Ris N., Fauvergue X. 2012. Intraspecific hybridization, life history strategies and potential invasion success in a parasitoid wasp. Evolutionary Ecology 26(6): 1311-1329.

Benvenuto C., Tabone E., Vercken E., Sorbier N., Colombel E., Warot S., Fauvergue X., Ris. N., 2012. Intraspecific variability in the parasitoid wasp Trichogramma chilonis: Can we predict the outcome of hybridization? Evolutionary Applications, 5(5): 498–510.

Benvenuto C., Weeks S.C., 2012. Intersexual conflict during mate guarding in an androdioecious crustacean. Behavioral Ecology, 23:218-224.

Benvenuto C., Weeks S. C., 2011. Mate guarding behavior in clam shrimp: the influence of mating system on intersexual conflict. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65:1899-1907.

Weeks S. C., Benvenuto C., Sanderson T. F., Duff R. J., 2010. Sex chromosome evolution in the clam shrimp, Eulimnadia texana. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23:1100-1106 (Selected for Faculty of 1000 Biology).


Book chapter:

Benvenuto C., Knott B., Weeks S.C., 2015 - Crustaceans of Extreme Environments. In: The Natural History of the Crustacea, Vol. 2: Life styles and feeding biology, Thiel M., Watling L eds. Oxford University Press, 379-417.

Please refer to for a full list