Professor Alex Kacelnik

Tutor in Zoology, EP Abraham Fellow, Professor of Behavioural Ecology
01865 271164

Teaching activities

Undergraduate teaching of Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology.

Professor Kacelnik has supervised over 30 Ph.D. thesis and some 15 postdocs, and is the Head of the Behavioural Ecology Research Group,

Detailed Biography

College Function

Fellow and Tutor in Biological Sciences

Curator of Gardens


Professor of Behavioural Ecology, Department of Zoology.

Current non-Oxford Activities

Professor Kacelnik is currently Chairman of the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships Panel, Associate Editor of Biological Letters of the Royal Society and member of the editorial board of different scientific journals. In recent years he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and Member of the European Academy, and received prizes such as the Research Award of the Society of Comparative Cognition, the de Robertis medal from the Argentinian Society of Neurosciences, The Cogito Prize for interdisciplinary Research, and the Raices Prize of the Argentinian Ministry for Science

Professor Kacelnik's research has attracted world-wide attention, as he and his colleagues have produced the first demonstrations of a non-human spontaneously shaping novel material into hooks to use as tools (Science 2002, Doi: 10.1126/science.1073433), of using micro-cameras mounted on free flying wild birds to transmit behavioural video data remotely (Science 2007), of state-dependent learning in an invertebrate (Science 2006, Doi: 10.1126/science.1123924), and of the presence of an innate trait towards use of tools in a vertebrate species ( Nature 2005, Doi: 10.1038/433121a). More information about this research, including movies, can be found at Professor’s Kacelnik's web site

Relevant Links

Departmental website:

Personal Website:

Research interests

Decision making in animals and humans.

Ethology and Behavioural Ecology.

Animal coginition, tool use and time perception.


Tools for thought or thoughts for tools? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 2010 vol. 107 no. 1 508-512; doi_10.1073_pnas.0904735106

The Role of Experience in Problem Solving and Innovative Tool Use in Crows. Current Biology, 2009: 19(22): 1965-1968. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.037

Context-dependent utility overrides absolute memory as a determinant of choice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 2010 vol. 107 no. 1 508-512; doi/10.1073/pnas.0907250107

Weir, A. A. S., Chappell, J. and Kacelnik, A. (2002) Shaping of hooks in New Caledonian crows. Science, 297, 981. Doi: 10.1126/science.1073433

Marsh, B. and Kacelnik, A. (2002). Framing effects and risky decisions in starlings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.99, 3352-3355. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.042491999

Schuck-Paim, C., Pompilio, C and Kacelnik, A. (2004). State-Dependent Decisions Cause Apparent Violations of Rationality in Animal Choice. PLoS Biology 2, 2305-2315. Doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020402

Kacelnik, A. (2005) Meanings of rationality. Chapter 2 (pp. 87-106. In: Rational Animals? Matthew Nudds and Susan Hurley, editors, OUP, Oxford.

Kenward, B., Weir, A.A.S. Rutz, C. & Kacelnik, A., (2005) Tool manufacture by naive juvenile crows. Nature 433: 121 Doi: 10.1038/433121a

Pompilio, L., Kacelnik, A., & Behmer. S.T. (2006) State-Dependent Learned Valuation Drives Choice in an Invertebrate. Science. 311: 1613-1615. Doi: 10.1126/science.1123924

Rutz, C., Bluff, L.A., Weir, A.A.S., & Kacelnik, A. (2007) Video Cameras on Wild Birds. Science. (on line publication October 5 2007).16-20