Dr Chris G. Faulkes: Research Page

Dordabis, Namibia


Curriculum vitae

2009 - present : Reader in Evolutionary Ecology, Queen Mary, University of London.

2008 - present:  Extraordinary Professor, Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of Pretoria.

1998 - 2009 : Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Molecular Ecology & Evolution, Queen Mary, University of London.

1990-1998: Post-doctoral Research Scientist then Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.

1987-1990: PhD "Social Suppression of Reproduction in The Naked Mole-Rat, Heterocephalus glaber". Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London/University College London.

1984-1987: Research Project Leader, Dalgety UK Ltd.

Publications and information

Reference List/Bibliography

Google Scholar Profile


Click here for background info on naked mole-rats

Click here for Rat.systems - our website which allows you a peek into the lives of a colony of naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber), with real-time tracking and data collection, and exploring live data from the animals through artwork and data visualisation. Best viewed with Firefox or Google Chrome.

Media links

Meet The Sabre-Toothed Sausage (BBC News, Science and Environment)

Understanding Animal Research (Interview/link)


Naked mole-rats on David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities / Behind the scenes clip


Naked mole-rats on Animal Show Off

CGF & NMRs on World's Weirdest Events - BBC 2 Thursday 17th 2015


Other Links

    African mole-rats: Ecology and Eusociality now available in paperback. Link to Amazon / Cambridge University Press

Research interests

My research interests broadly fall into mammalian evolution and, in particular, the evolution and maintenance of social and reproductive behaviour. This involves a multidisciplinary approach encompassing the fields of molecular ecology, molecular phylogenetics, reproductive physiology, neurobiology and behaviour. My specific study animals have focused mainly on the African mole-rats of the family Bathyergidae. The African mole-rats (Family: Bathyergidae) are extraordinary among mammals in the diversity and range of social strategies adopted by the member species. The ecological constraints acting upon these subterranean animals have resulted in a spectrum of social organisation ranging from solitary to eusocial (i.e., as in social insects). As such, the Bathyergidae offer a unique model system with which to address the evolution and maintenance of sociality and cooperative breeding. Furthermore, adaptations to life underground have resulted in many other extraordinary biological features, such as extreme longevity (30+ years in the naked mole-rat), an apparent resistance to cancer and insensitivity to certain kinds of pain. Two current areas of research of particular relevance to neuroscience and behaviour are (i) the role of neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vasopressin in the expression of social behaviour, and the genetics underlying species specific patterns of receptor expression of these and other neural substrates; (ii) the mechanisms underlying socially-induced reproductive suppression, whereby in naked mole-rats, social cues may cause the gonads of fully grown adults to be held in a potentially permanent, but reversible pre-pubertal state.

Click on highlighted areas for further information.

1. The evolution of sociality and biodiversity in the African mole-rats, Family Bathyergidae (In collaboration with Professor N.C. Bennett, University of Pretoria).

2. Genetics and comparative genomics of social behaviour and adaptations to life underground (In collaboration with Professor N.C. Bennett, University of Pretoria and Professor Steve Rossiter, Queen Mary, University of London).

3. Genomic and epigenetic approaches to understanding eusociality in naked mole-rats (In collaboration with Professor Edith Heard and Dr Eskeatnaf Mulugeta, Marie Curie Institute, Paris and Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, UCSF).

4. MHC gene evolution, parasites and social behaviour in African mole-rats  &  (In collaboration with Professor N.C. Bennett & Dr Heike Lutermann, University of Pretoria).

Some previous projects

5. Neurobiology of social behaviour (In collaboration with Professor Clive Coen, King's College London).

6. Genetic studies of wild common marmoset monkeys (In collaboration with Dr M.F. Arruda and Professor M.E. Yamamoto, University of Natal, Brazil; Dr M.A.O. Da Cruz, Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil).

7. Molecular ecology of Round Island petrels (In collaboration with Professor Richard Nichols and Dr Ruth Brown, Dr Carl Jones and Vikash Tatayah (Mauritius Wildlife Foundation) and the late Dr Bill Jordan, Zoological Society of London.

8. Molecular ecology of UK small mammals  (With Professor John Gurnell, QMUL).

Contact Chris Faulkes:

School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK. Tel. 020-7882 7004;  e-mail c.g.faulkes@qmul.ac.uk.

Header photo of naked mole-rats by Lorna Ellen Faulkes Photography

Site last updated November 2019

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