Dr. Chiara Benvenuto
School of Science, Engineering and Environment
Reader in Behavioural Ecology
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.
Areas of research
Behavioural evolutionary ecology, Sexual selection and mating strategies, Evolution of mating systems, Conservation and management of biodiversity, Sustainable aquaculture, Invasive species, Behavioural eco-toxicology, Colour change
Areas of supervision
Behavioural ecology, Conservation, Aquatic Ecology, Mating System Evolution, Biodiversity
I am currently module leader for Introduction to Marine Biology, Ocean Challenges and Placement. I contribute to a series of modules, including Animal Evolution, Tropical Ecology and Conservation (including a 2-week residential field trip, from the Brazilian Amazon to The Gambia), Field Biology, Biological skills (all lab based) and more.
I am placement tutor for Marine Biology, Wildlife and Zoology students.
I am an evolutionary behavioural ecologist. I have a strong theoretical background in animal behaviour, ecology and evolution augmented by well-grounded empirical experience. I enjoy working with aquatic organisms (mainly fish and crustaceans, marine and freshwater, in temperate and tropical environments) and I am fascinated by the evolution of animal mating systems and strategies. I am particularly interested in sequential hermaphroditism (sex-change). I am convinced that a deep knowledge of animal behaviours and mating strategies is fundamental in any program of conservation and management of biodiversity, including biomonitoring and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. I am investigating patterns of sex allocation/sex ratios, sex determining mechanisms and intersexual conflicts as well. Also, as it is becoming more and more evident that anthropogenic changes are affecting behaviours and reproduction in many species, I try to understand the effects of contaminants and acoustic pollution in aquatic organisms and to assess what behavioural changes can be used as biomarkers of stressors (behavioural eco-toxicology). I study colour change because it is an incredible adaptation. I am also interested in invasion biology (allochthonous crayfish in Europe; prawns in India and Brazil; marine Lessepsian fish in the Mediterranean Sea). My experience in the field and in the lab convinced me that the investigation of behavioural, conservation and evolutionary topics is most productive when empirical studies are directly tied to specific theory. I value an integrated approach and I try to link, in my projects, theory with field observations, manipulative experiments, lab analyses, modelling, phylogenetic methods and molecular techniques (including environmental DNA [eDNA] and bulk-sample metabarcoding), embracing a collaborative, synergistic and cross-disciplinary strategy.
- 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
- 2013-2014 - Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) - University of Salford
- Secretary of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity & Accessibility (EDIA) Committee - January 2022-present https://www.asab.org/edia-committee
- Member of The Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI) 2011 - present
- Member of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) 2009 - present
- Italian Society for Evolutionary Biology (SIBE) 2005 - present