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About Dr Christina Stanley

I joined the University of Chester in August 2015 after completing my PhD at the University of Manchester. My thesis work explored social behaviour (in particular mother-offspring relationships and social stability), demography and population genetics in a semi-feral pony population: the Carneddau mountain ponies in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales. Alongside this I carried out experimental work on Diploptera punctata, the Pacific beetle roach, in the laboratory to investigate social structure, personality and kin effects on development in this species. See press coverage of this work on PLOS research news.       

I first discovered my passion for behavioural ecology at the University of Cambridge, where I read Natural Sciences (Zoology) as an undergraduate. Following this, I worked with domestic horses for a while before returning to university to gain an MSc in Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology at Manchester Metropolitan University. For my MSc thesis, I studied the effects of burned habitat on vigilance and foraging behaviour in waterbuck, Thompson’s gazelle and plains zebra in Ol Pejeta reserve, Nanyuki, Kenya. I then worked as a research assistant before commencing my PhD.

Since joining the University of Chester, I have progressed from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer, gained my FHEA and then SFHEA status, and am currently on part-time secondment as a University Innovation Fellow. I have led a number of research projects, working with a variety of collaborators and study species. To find out more, please see my research section.


Teaching and supporting learning to the best of my ability is something I am passionate about. I continually work to improve my own teaching practice by keeping up to date with developments in the field. I am always keen to try new approaches and to involve students as partners in module and programme design, ensuring the methods I use suit a diverse community of learners. For example, read more in my Times Higher Education Campus article about how we can better support learner confidence online. I also provide leadership for strategic educational change, the enhancement of academic practice, and the sharing and development of good practice within and beyond the university in my role of University Innovation Fellow. I am currently coordinating TLInnovate, a new online community of practice for all at the University of Chester.

I am currently lead two MSc programmes: MSc Animal Behaviour and MSc Animal Welfare. I am also module leader for Introduction to Animal Behaviour at Level Four (first year), Behavioural & Evolutionary Ecology at Level Six (third year) and Behavioural Ecology in a Changing World at Level 7 (MSc and MRes). I teach on a number of other BSc and MSc modules including Behavioural Ecology, Welfare & Behaviour Management, Stress & Welfare Assessment in Animals, Domestic Animal Behaviour & Welfare, Animal Welfare & Ethics. I usually lead an annual level 5 field trip to South Africa as part of our Experiential Learning module and have been involved with a number of other field trips to destinations such as Anglesey, Spain and Madagascar. I am also a strong supporter of integrating science communication skills within undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and use this as an assessment tool at both levels 6 and 7.


My research broadly falls under the umbrella of behavioural ecology, with links to both animal welfare and conservation. I use social network analysis and other techniques to answer key questions relating to animal sociality and social bonds, research that has practical applications to both wild and captive populations. I also carry out pedagogical research, for example studying the use of polling platforms to boost participation rates, particularly to enhance inclusive practice.

I currently lead a long-term project investigating social dynamics and captive management of Livingstone’s fruit bats with Jersey Zoo in collaboration with Prof Tessa Smith, Dr Lottie Hosie and Dr Morgan Edwards. 

I am a co-opted member of the BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Research Committee and a member of the West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) Research Group. 

I am interested in supervising Master’s and PhD projects involving novel applications of social network analysis to animal behaviour, conservation and welfare research, as well as research on feral equid demography and behaviour (including conservation grazing schemes) and domestic horse welfare. 

Please email me for more information on how to apply for these projects or if you are interested in collaborations.

 Link to researchgate profile

 Twitter: @crstanley_rsrch


    Published Work

    Most recent

    Górecka-Bruzda, A.,Jaworska, J. & Stanley, C. R. (2023). Bachelor and family life: welfare and reproduction of free-roaming domestic horse (Equus caballus) stallions. Animals, 13(7), 1151

    Yates, K., Stanley, C. R., & Bettridge, C. M. (2022). The effects of allogrooming and social network position on behavioural indicators of stress in female lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus). Behavioural Processes, 104740.

    Edwards, M. J., Stanley, C. R., Hosie, C. A., Richdon, S., Price, E., Wormell, D., & Smith, T. E. (2022). Social roles influence cortisol levels in captive Livingstone's fruit bats (Pteropus livingstonii). Hormones and Behavior144, 105228.

    Brambilla, A., von Hardenberg, A., Canedoli, C., Brivio, F., Sueur, C., & Stanley, C. R. (2022). Long term analysis of social structure: evidence of age‐based consistent associations in male Alpine ibex. Oikos, e09511.

    Harley, J., Rowden, L., Clifforde, L., & Power, A. & Stanley, C.R., (2022). Preliminary investigation of the effects of a concert on the behavior of zoo animals. Zoo Biology

    Górecka-Bruzda, A., Jaworska, J., Siemieniuch, M., Jaworski, Z., Stanley, C. R., Wocławek-Potocka, I., & Lansade, L. (2021). Human-controlled reproductive experience may contribute to incestuous behavior observed in reintroduced semi-feral stallions (Equus caballus). Theriogenology. DOI: 

    Wiśniewska, A., Janczarek, I., Wilk, I., Tkaczyk, E., Mierzicka, M., Stanley, C. R., & Górecka-Bruzda, A. (2021). Heterospecific Fear and Avoidance Behaviour in Domestic Horses (Equus caballus). Animals11(11), 3081.

    Edwards, M. J., Hosie, C. A., Smith, T. E., Wormell, D., Price, E., & Stanley, C. R. (2021). Principal Component Analysis as a novel method for the assessment of the enclosure use patterns of captive Livingstone’s fruit bats (Pteropus livingstonii). Applied Animal Behaviour Science244, 105479.

    Harley, J.J.; Stack, J.D.; Braid, H.; McLennan, K.M.; Stanley, C.R. (2021). Evaluation of the Feasibility, Reliability, and Repeatability of Welfare Indicators in Free-Roaming Horses: A Pilot Study. Animals 11, 1981.

    Panaccio, M., Ferrari, C., Bassano, B., Stanley, C.R. & von Hardenberg, A. (2021). Social Network Analysis of small social groups: application of a hurdle GLMMs approach in the Alpine marmot (Marmota marmota). Ethology DOI: 10.1111/eth.13151



    Welch, M. J., Smith, T., Hosie, C., Wormell, D., Price, E., & Stanley, C. R. (2020). Social Experience of Captive Livingstone’s Fruit Bats (Pteropus livingstonii). Animals10(8), 1321. doi:10.3390/ani10081321

    Nolan R., Welsh A., Geary M., Hartley M., Dempsey A., Mono J.C., Osei D. & Stanley C.R.(2019). Camera Traps Confirm the Presence of the White-naped Mangabey Cercocebus lunulatusin Cape Three Points Forest Reserve, Western Ghana. Primate Conservation 33

    Fraser M.D., Stanley C.R. & Hegarty, M.J. (2019) Recognising the potential role of native ponies in conservation management. Biological Conservation 235, 112-118

    Stanley C.R., Liddiard Williams H., Preziosi R.F.  (2018) Female clustering in cockroach aggregations—A case of social niche construction? Ethology.

    Stanley, C.R., Mettke-Hofmann, C., Hager, R. & Shultz, S. (2018) Social stability in semiferal ponies: networks show interannual stability alongside seasonal flexibility. Animal Behaviour 136: 175-184 DOI10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.04.013

    Snijders, L., Blumstein, D. T., Stanley C. R., Franks, D. W. (2017): Animal Social Network Theory Can Help Wildlife Conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 32(8): 567-577 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2017.05.005 

    Stanley, C.R., Mettke-Hofmann, C. & Preziosi, R.F. (2017) Personality in the cockroach Diploptera punctata: Evidence for stability across developmental stages despite age effects on boldness. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176564.


    Up to 2016

    Hartley, M. & Stanley, C.R. (2016) Survey of reproduction and calf rearing in Asian and African elephants in European zoos. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 4(3), 139-146

    Stanley, C.R. (2014) Conservation genetics of wild ponies. Biological Sciences Review, 2, 2-6

    Stanley, C.R. & Dunbar, R.I.M. (2013) Consistent social structure and optimal clique size revealed by social network analysis of feral goats, Capra hircusAnimal Behaviour, 85(4), 771-779

    Stanley, C.R. & Shultz, S. (2012) Mummy's boys: sex differential maternal-offspring bonds in semi-feral horses. Behaviour, 149, 251-274


    • MA (hons) cantab Natural Sciences (Zoology) - University of Cambridge
    • MSc (distinction) Behavioural & Evolutionary Ecology - Manchester Metropolitan University
    • PhD Animal Biology - University of Manchester
    • SFHEA, PGCert (Teaching & Learning in Higher Education) - University of Chester