B.Sc.(Hons I)
University of Sydney
University of Sydney
University of Cambridge
European Union RTN Post-Doctoral Fellow
Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris
Marie Curie Individual Fellow
University of Paris VI
Departmental Lecturer in Zoology
University of Oxford

     My basic interest is in understanding how the interplay of an organism’s genes and environment shapes its nature. I attempt to learn more about adaptive plasticity by focussing on the fields of ecology, evolution and behaviour.

     My work at the University of Sydney (with Prof. Alan Meats) concerned the mechanisms responsible for maintaining the integrity of sibling species of tephritid fruit fly. This work involved behavioural assays of flies’ responses to pheromone, behavioural monitoring of artificially-selected and hybrid stocks, and sampling of natural populations.

     My research at the University of Cambridge (with Dr William Foster) investigated the evolution of sociality using the unique case of clonal galling aphids. This work was based around field experiments, population ecology and computer modelling.

     In Paris, I divided my time between the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the University of Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie), working in the ecology laboratory that is spread across these institutions. Using clonal springtails as model organisms, I investigated how the dynamic relationships between organism and environment can profoundly influence the outcome of ecological processes such as invasion and extinction. These investigations involved large-scale experiments using laboratory cultures and the use of molecular tools to identify changes within populations.

     The majority of my research at the University of Oxford aims to elucidate the issue of phenotypic plasticity. Using clonal organisms such as the aphids and springtails already mentioned, I am attempting to isolate and quantify phenotypic responses that are veritably attributable to adaptive plasticity. I examine the variability in these effects over time, in different environments, and both within and across generations. To learn about the costs and benefits of maintaining the flexibility that phenotypic plasticity provides, I identify the periods in which model organisms are most sensitive to the cues that induce phenotypic divergences and I quantify the potential for these organisms to re-adjust their phenotypes in changing environments. Because all organisms are adapted to some extent to live in unpredictable environments, understanding how phenotypic plasticity determines ecological and evolutionary trajectories has a very broad relevance. Happily, my lab is affiliated with the Behavioural Ecology Research Group led by Prof. Alex Kacelnik.


     I am very pleased to be the co-ordinator of the University of Oxford's M.Sc. in Biology (Integrative Bioscience). This degree, which is directed by Dr David Shotton, provides excellent exposure to advanced topics and research techniques from the full spectrum of Biology. The taught courses include Animal Behaviour, Cell and Developmental Biology, Mathematical Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Ornithology, Molecular Biology, Experimental Design, Scientific Communication, and Statistics. The excellent students who engage in the degree programme must also undertake two three-month research projects based in dissimilar fields.

     One of my primary teaching duties for the M.Sc. in Biology is the co-ordination of the course in Mathematical Biology, for which I also provide lectures on population modelling. My other teaching interests include entomology, population and evolutionary ecology, sociobiology and experimental design and analysis.


Pike, N., T. Tully, P. Haccou and R. Ferrière (2004)
The effect of autocorrelation in environmental variability on the persistence of populations: an experimental test. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 271: 2143-2148.

Wang, W. Y. S. and N. Pike (2004)
The allelic spectra of common diseases may resemble the allelic spectrum of the full genome. Medical Hypotheses. 63: 748-751.

Pike, N. and W. A. Foster (2004)
Fortress repair in the social aphid species, Pemphigus spyrothecae. Animal Behaviour. 67: 909-914.

Pike, N. (2004)
Natural incidence of fruit flies with character states intermediate to those of the sibling species Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) and Bactrocera neohumeralis (Hardy) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Australian Journal of Entomology. 43: 23-27.

Pike, N., C Braendle and W. A. Foster (2004)
Seasonal extension of the soldier instar as a route to increased defence investment in the social aphid Pemphigus spyrothecae. Ecological Entomology. 29: 89-95.

Meats, A., N. Pike, X. An, K. Raphael and W. Y. S. Wang (2003)
The effects of selection for early (day) and late (dusk) mating lines of hybrids of Bactrocera tryoni and Bactrocera neohumeralis. Genetica. 119: 283-293.

Pike, N., W. Y. S. Wang and A. Meats (2003)
The likely fate of hybrids of Bactrocera tryoni and Bactrocera neohumeralis. Heredity. 90: 365-370.

Pike, N. and A. Meats (2003)
Tendency for upwind movement in the sibling fruit fly species, Bactrocera tryoni and Bactrocera neohumeralis and their hybrids (Diptera: Tephritidae): influence of time of day, sex and airborne pheromone. Bulletin of Entomological Research. 93: 173-178.

Pike, N., D. Richard, W. Foster & L. Mahadevan (2002)
How aphids lose their marbles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 269: 1211-1215.

Pike, N. and A. Meats (2002)
Potential for mating between Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) and Bactrocera neohumeralis (Hardy) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Australian Journal of Entomology. 41: 70-74.
Download vCard
Nathan Pike,
Department of Zoology,
University of Oxford,
South Parks Road,
Oxford OX1 3PS,

Telephone: + 44 1865 271119
Facsimile: + 44 1865 310447