Susanne Shultz

Susanne Shultz, BSc, MA, PhD


Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


2013-2018 Royal Society University Research Fellow, University of Manchester

2009-2012 Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, University of Oxford

2004-2009 Lecturer, University of Liverpool

2003-2004 Research Biologist, RSPB

2003 Ph.D. Biology, University of Liverpool

2000 M.A. Ecology and Evolution SUNY Stony Brook

1996 B.Sc. Anthropology, University of California, Davis 

Research interests

There are several parallel themes to our research program:

The first theme is to understand how populations respond to environmental change. We are developing a ‘macroecology tool kit’ of physiological biomarkers (Lea et al 2018; Hinchcliffe et al 2021; Shultz et al in press; Harvey et al in prep; Britnell et al in prep) and indicators of population stability both over time (Stanley and Shultz, 2012) and across ecological gradients (Britnell et al in prep). Part of this work involves evaluating how species characteristics affect their sensitivity to environmental change (Shultz et al 2004; Salido-Grana et al, 2012; Harvey et al in prep; Britnell et al in prep) and how animals respond to external stressors (Edwards et al 2013; 2014; 2015). At a landscape scale, we are evaluating how landuse change and water extraction impacts on vegetation communities and large herbivore viability (Elisa et al 2017). A key theme of this work is to understand how shifting baselines (Kerley et al 2020), range contraction into marginal habitats (Let et al 2017) and biases in understanding species biology impacts on conservation efficacy and population resilience (Britnell et al 2021).

The second theme is to develop novel approaches to document the transmission dynamics and impacts of zoonotic diseases on wildlife and livestock in rangelands. A main focus of this research is developing eco-immunology as a dynamic research area

The third theme is to identify macroevolutionary trends in social behaviour and cultural evolution using Bayesian statistics (Shultz et al, 2011; Opie et al 2013a,b; Opie et al 2014; Fox et al 2018; Day et al 2017; Kappeler et al 2020; Shultz et al in review; Shultz et al in prep). We have demonstrated that sociality is universally associated with large brains in mammals, but the relationship is strongest for primates (Dunbar and Shultz 2021; Shultz and Dunbar 2007; Perez-Barberia, Shultz, Dunbar 2007; Shultz and Dunbar 2010b) but also present in birds (Shultz and Dunbar 2010d; Shultz et al 2005). We have used the fossil record to provide the first quantitative test for encephalisation in mammals (Shultz and Dunbar 2010a). More recently we have applied similar approaches to understand how hominin brain and cognitive evolution is influenced by paleoclimate (Shultz et al, 2012; Shultz and Maslin 2013; Maslin et al 2014; Maslin, Shultz and Trauth 2015).


Previous research:

The Asian vulture crisis: identifying the cause of the catastrophic population declines in Asian vultures.

Project manager (May 2003-September 2004). We identified the veterinary drug diclofenac as the primary cause of catastrophic mortality of Gyps vultures in the Indian sub-continent (Shultz et al 2004a; Green et al 2004).

My thesis project (2000-2003), ‘Of monkeys and eagles: predator-prey interactions in the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast’, explored the relationship between prey behavioural ecology and predation risk by African crowned eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus, Shultz et al 2004b; Shultz and Nöe 2002).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Areas of expertise

  • QL Zoology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Human Evolution

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures
  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute


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