Emily Simmonds

Emily Simmonds


Name: Emily Simmonds
Position: DPhil Student
Email: emily.simmonds@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Autobiography:  I graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2011 with a BA in Geography. Later that year I began an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity jointly at the Natural History Museum and Imperial College London. During my MSc I focused on phylogenetics, biodiversity and population responses to climate change. My MSc project was supervised by Prof. Tim Coulson. We used an integral projection model to analyse phenotypic change in relation to climatic drivers in a population of Soay sheep (Ovis aries). I began my DPhil in October 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Ben Sheldon, Prof. Tim Coulson and Dr. Ella Cole.

Research interests: My main research interest is determining how populations respond to climatic changes. My thesis is titled ‘Developmental constraints, natural selection and adaptation to a changing climate in birds’. This project combines a mixture of fieldwork and theoretical methods to establish how great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) in Wytham woods time their breeding in relation to the phenology of their prey species (Operophtera brumata). My work focuses on identifying the environmental cues used by the birds in order to determine the optimal time for reproduction, quantifying plasticity in different elements of the breeding cycle, predicting the response of phenology to further climatic change and projecting the influence of these changes on population dynamics. This allows me to ask questions about how species have adapted to seasonally and inter-annually varying environments. It also gives the opportunity to predict how they might adjust to further directional change and how alterations to current variability might change interspecific relationships. This is achieved through novel data collection methods, experimental manipulations, statistical analyses and population modelling.


  • Simmonds, E. G. and Coulson, T. (2015), Analysis of phenotypic change in relation to climatic drivers in a population of Soay sheep Ovis aries. Oikos, 124: 543–552. doi: 10.1111/oik.01727
  • Kidd, L. R., Sheldon, B. C., Simmonds, E. G. and Cole, E. F. (2015), Who escapes detection? Quantifying the causes and consequences of sampling biases in a long-term field study. J Anim Ecol, 84: 1520–1529. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12411