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About Dr Alison Fletcher

My academic background is in Biology & Psychology (BSc Stirling), and Zoology (PhD Bristol).  I joined the University of Chester in 1999, following Research Fellow positions at University of York and Miami University, Ohio. I’ve been based both in the Psychology Department and Biological Sciences during my time at Chester. 

Currently I teach on several undergraduate modules including Introduction to Animal Behaviour, Animal Cognition (module leader), Animal Behaviour & Conservation and supervise several dissertation students, many of whom present their resulting work at national conferences. I’m also on the Programme team for the MSc in Wildlife Conservation and module leader for the MSc Research Dissertation.



One of my main research interests involves the behavioural development of primates.  My key focus, and that of PhD students, has been on infant and juvenile social development and maternal investment pre and post weaning, particularly in mountain and western gorillas in the wild and in captivity.  My work is ethologically based, concentrating on observation of ‘natural' behaviour, both in the wild and captivity.

Another research focus involves the laterality of behaviour, or ‘handedness' where my work and that of students investigates the existence of lateral bias in adults of several species, as well as its development and consistency in immature individuals.  I’m particularly interested in the methods constraints of such research.

Other interests broadly include animal cognition, ecotourism and community attitudes to conservation practices.

Published Work

  • Boulton, R. A. and Fletcher, A. W. (2015), Do mothers prefer helpers or smaller litters? Birth sex ratio and litter size adjustment in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Ecology and Evolutiondoi: 10.1002/ece3.1396
  • Eckardt, W., Steklis, H.D., Steklis, N.G., Fletcher, A.W., Stoinski, T.S., and Weiss, A. (in press). Personality dimensions and their behavioral correlates in wild Virunga mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Journal of Comparative Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0038370
  • Hutchinson, J.E. & Fletcher, A.W. (2010). Using behavior to determine immature life-stages in captive western gorillas. American Journal of Primatology, 72(6):492-501.
  • Nowell, A.A. & Fletcher, A.W. (2008). The development of feeding behaviour in wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Behaviour, 145(2): 171-193.
  • Nowell, A.A. & Fletcher, A.W. (2007). The development of independence from the mother in wild western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). International Journal of Primatology, 28(2): 441-455.
  • Fletcher, A.W. (2006). Clapping in chimpanzees: evidence of exclusive hand preference in a spontaneous, bimanual gesture. American Journal of Primatology, 68(11): 1405-1412.
  • Nowell, A.A. & Fletcher, A.W. (2006). Food transfers in immature wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Primates, 47(4): 294-299.
  • Fletcher, A.W. & Weghorst, J.A. (2005). Laterality of hand function in naturalistically-housed chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Laterality: 10:219-242.
  • Fletcher, A. (2001). Development of infant independence from the mother in wild mountain gorillas. In Robbins, M.M., Sicotte, P. & Stewart, K.J. (Eds.). Mountain Gorillas: Three Decades of Research at Karisoke. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 153-182.



  • BSc (Hons), University of Stirling
  • PhD University of Bristol