Scientia Professor Rob Brooks
ARC Professorial Fellow
Field of Research: 
Sex, diet, death, evolution, behaviour, genetics, attractiveness
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 2587
Room 5103, Level 5 West
Biological Sciences South (E26)

UNSW, Kensington 2052

Rob Brooks

Research & Current Projects

I am interested in evolution, particularly in the context of sexual reproduction. My work has addressed the evolution of mate choice behaviour, the coevolution between mate choice and sexual advertisement, sex chromosome evolution, the biology of ageing and longevity, the risks of extinction, the genetic costs of inbreeding, the biological basis of individual diversity, and the measurement of natural selection.

My collaborators and I are particularly interested in:
  • The relationships between diet, reproductive effort and ageing,
  • Intralocus genetic conflict associated with sex and mating,
  • Sex-differences in ageing in the lab and the wild,
  • The maintenance of within-population in variation in sexual ornaments,
  • The effect of sexual selection on the degree of sex-linkage of ornamental traits,
  • The evolution of the Y-chromosome,
  • Within-population variation in female mate choice behaviour and mating preferences,
  • The costs of mate choice,
  • The roles of resource acquisition and allocation in male sexual signalling and the life-history tradeoffs involved,
  • The genetic basis of inbreeding depression,
  • The evolution of inbreeding avoidance,
  • The genetic benefits of mate choice and polyandry,
  • The relationship between sexual selection, sexual conflict and extinction risk,
  • The analysis and interpretation of nonlinear selection,
  • The use of new digital media and technologies to study human mate choice.
I currently have plans to take on 1-2 more PhD students and 1-2 more Honours or MPhil students in the next year. Students with a strong interest in research in any of the above areas should contact me via email to discuss potential projects. I am especially interested in students with skills in functional genomics, quantitative or molecular genetics, computer-generated imagery and animation. Research projects are well-funded, but students should be competitive for a scholarship to pay living expenses and tuition.
Much of our current research is conducted on guppies, field crickets and native flies. There are also opportunities to work on humans, mice and native Australian fishes (especially osteoglossids and blue-eyes).


Dr Michael Kasumovic
Room: 450G
Phone: 9385 8091

Research Students 

Teagan Gale (PhD candidate)

Alyssa Gibson (PhD candidate)

Amany Gouda-Vossos (PhD candidate)

Dax Kellie (PhD candidate)




BIOS3011  Animal Behaviour



Donohoe, M. L., von Hippel, W. & Brooks, R. Provisionally accepted. Beyond waist-hip ratio: Experimental multivariate evidence that average women's torsos are most attractive. Behavioral Ecology, provisionally accepted 11 November 2008.

Zajitschek, F., Bonduriansky, R., Zajitschek, S.R. K., & Brooks, R. In press. Sexual dimorphism in life history: age, survival and reproduction in male and female field crickets, Teleogryllus commodus, under semi-natural conditions. American Naturalist, final acceptance 3 November 2008.
Zajitschek, F., Hunt, J., Jennions, M.D., Hall, M.D, & Brooks, R. In press. Effects of juvenile and adult diet on ageing and reproductive effort of male and female Black Field Crickets Teleogryllus commodus. Functional Ecology, final acceptance 31 October 2008.
Zajitschek, F., Brassil,  C.E., Bonduriansky, R. & Brooks, R. In press. Sex-effects on lifespan and senescence in the wild when dates of birth and death are unknown.Ecology, final acceptance 12 September 2008.
Maklakov, A. A., Simpson, S.J., Zajitschek, F., Hall, M., Dessman, J., Clissold, F. J., Raubenheimer, D., Bondurainsky, R.,& Brooks, R.. 2008. Sex-specific fitness effects of nutrient intake on reproduction and lifespan.  Current Biology 18:1062-1068.
Zajitschek, S. R. K., and Brooks, R.. 2008. Distinguishing the effects of familiarity, relatedness and colour pattern rarity on attractiveness and measuring their effects on sexual selection in guppies (Poecilia reticulata). The American Naturalist172: 843-854. DOI: 10.1086/593001.
Evans, J.P., Brooks, R. & Griffith, S.C. 2008. No evidence that genetic relatedness of mates influences competitive fertilization success in guppies. Evolution 62: 2929-2935.
Hall, M.D., Bussière, L.F.& Brooks, R. 2008. The effect of diet quality and wing morph on male and female reproductive investment in a nuptial feeding ground cricket. PLoS ONE 3(10): e3437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003437
Hall, M. D., Bussière, L.F., Hunt, J., & Brooks, R.. 2008. Experimental evidence that sexual conflict influences the opportunity, form and intensity of sexual selection.Evolution. 62:2305-2315.
Bussière, L. F., D. T. Gwynne, & Brooks, R. 2008. Contrasting sexual selection on males and females in a role-reversed swarming dance fly, Rhamphomyia longicaudaLoew (Diptera: Empididae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21:1683-1691.
Bonduriansky, R., Maklakov, A., Zajitschek, F. & Brooks, R.  2008. Sexual selection, sexual conflict and the evolution of ageing and lifespan. Functional Ecology. 22: 443-453.
Kawasaki, N., Brassil, C., Brooks, R. & Bonduriansky, R. 2008. Environment, lifespan and ageing: extreme contrasts between wild and captive insects. The American Naturalist. Accepted 18/12/07.
Lee, K.P., Simpson, S.J., Clissold, F.J., Brooks, R., Ballard, J.W.O., Taylor, P.W., Soran, N. & Raubenheimer, W. 2008. Lifespan and reproduction in Drosophila: new insights from nutritional geometry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 2498-2503.
Head, M., Lindholm, A.K. & Brooks, R. 2008. Operational sex ratio and density do not affect directional selection on male sexual ornaments and behaviour. Evolution: 62: 135-144.
Bussière LF, Hunt J, Stölting KN, Jennions M, Brooks R.  2008. Mate choice for genetic quality when environments vary: suggestions for empirical progress. Genetica. In press. DOI 10.1007/s10709-007-9220-z
Hunt, J., Blows, M.W., Zajitschek, F., Jennions, M.D., & Brooks, R. 2007. Reconciling strong stabilizing selection with the maintenance of genetic variation in a natural population of black field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus). Genetics 177: 875-880.
Monro, K., Poore, A.G.B., & Brooks, R. 2007. Multivariate selection shapes environment-dependent variation in the clonal morphology of a red seaweed. Evolutionary Ecology21: 765-782.
Jennions, M.D., Drayton, J.M., Brooks, R. & Hunt, J. 2007. Do female black field cricketsTeleogryllus commodus benefit from polyandry? Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20: 1469-1477.
Drayton, J.M., Hunt, J., Brooks, R. & Jennions, M.D. 2007. Sounds different: conflicting evidence for inbreeding depression in sexually selected traits in the cricket Teleogryllus commodus. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 20: 1138-1147.
Zajitschek, F., Hunt, J., Zajitschek, S.R.K, Jennions, M.D. & Brooks, R. 2007. No intra-locus sexual conflict over reproductive fitness or ageing in field crickets. PLoS One 2: e155. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000155
Hunt, J., Jennions, M.D., Spyrou, N., & Brooks, R. 2006. Artificial selection on male longevity influences age-dependent reproductive effort in the black field cricketTeleogryllus commodus. American Naturalist 168:E72-E86.
Lindholm, A. K., Hunt, J. & Brooks, R.. 2006. Where do all the maternal effects go? Variation in offspring body size through ontogeny in the live-bearing fish Poecilia parae.Biology Letters 2:586-589.
Mariette, M., Kelley, J. L., Brooks, R., & Evans, J. P. 2006. The effects of inbreeding on male courtship behaviour and coloration in guppies. Ethology 112:807-814.
Postma, E., Griffith, S. C., & Brooks, R. 2006. Evolutionary genetics - Evolution of mate choice in the wild. Nature 444:E16-E16.
Zajitschek, S. R. K., Evans, J. P. & Brooks, R. 2006. Independent effects of familiarity and mating preferences for ornamental traits on mating decisions in guppies.Behavioral Ecology 17:911-916.
Kokko, H., Jennions, M.D. & Brooks. 2006. Unifying and testing models of sexual selection. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 37: 43-66.
Bussière, L.F., Hunt, J., Jennions, M.D. & Brooks, R. 2006. Sexual conflict and cryptic female choice in the black field cricket Teleogryllus commodus. Evolution 60: 792-800.
Head, M.L. & Brooks, R. 2006. Sexual coercion and the opportunity for sexual selection in guppies. Animal Behaviour 71: 515-522.
Head, M.L., Hunt, J. & Brooks, R. 2006. Genetic association between male attractiveness and female differential allocation, Biol Letts: 2:341-344.
Bentsen, C.L., Hunt, J., Jennions, M.D. & Brooks, R. (2006) Complex Multivariate Sexual Selection on Male Acoustic Signalling in a Wild Population of Teleogryllus commodus.The American Naturalist E102-E116.
Miller, L.K. & Brooks, R. 2006. The effects of genotype, age and social environment on male ornamentation, mating behaviour and attractiveness. Evolution 59: 2414-2425 .
Head, M.L. & Brooks, R. 2006. Sexual coercion and the opportunity for sexual selection in guppies. Animal Behaviour 71: 515-522 .
Brooks, R., Hunt, J., Blows, M.W., Smith M.J., Bussière, L., & Jennions , MD. 2005.  Experimental evidence for multivariate stabilizing sexual selection. Evolution 59: 871-880
Lindholm, A.K., Breden, F., Alexander, H.J., Chan, W-K., Thakurta, S.G., & Brooks, R. 2005. Invasion success and genetic diversity of introduced populations of guppiesPoecilia reticulata in Australia . Molecular Ecology 14: 3671-3682.
Hunt, J., Brooks, R. & Jennions, M.D. 2005. Female mate choice as a condition dependent life-history trait. The American Naturalist 166: 79-92.
Head, M.L., Hunt, J., Jennions, M.D., Brooks, R. 2005. The indirect benefits of mating with attractive males outweigh the direct costs. PLoS Biology 3: e33  : Synopsis: Why bad boys get the girl and other tales of evolutionary madness
Savage, K., Hunt, J., Jennions, M.D., & Brooks, R. 2005.  Male attractiveness is positively associated with fighting ability but not confidence in the house cricket Acheta domesticusBehavioural Ecology. 16: 196-200.
Hunt, J., Brooks, R., Jennions, M.D., Smith, M.J., Bentsen, C.L., Bussière, L.F. 2004. High quality male field crickets invest heavily in sexual display but die young. Nature. 432: 1024-1027. : Story in Science
Jennions, M.D., Hunt, J.,  Brooks, R. & Graham, R. 2004. No evidence for inbreeding avoidance through post-copulatory mechanisms in the black field cricket Teleogryllus commodusEvolution 58: 2472-2477.
Brooks, R., Bussiere, L.F., Jennions, M.D. & Hunt, J. 2004. Sinister strategies succeed at the 2003 cricket world cup. Biology Letters Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B (Suppl) 271:S64-S66.
Hall, M., Lindholm, A.K., Brooks, R. 2004. Direct selection on male attractiveness and female preference fails to produce a response. BMC Evolutionary Biology 4:1
Hunt, J., Bussiere, L.F., Jennions, M.D. & Brooks, R. 2004. What is genetic quality? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19: 329-333.
Syriatowicz, A. & Brooks, R. 2004. Sexual responsiveness is condition-dependent in female guppies, but preference functions are not. BMC Ecology 4:5
Lindholm, AK, Brooks, R & F Breden. 2004. Extreme polymorphism of a Y-linked sexually selected trait. Heredity, 92(3) 156 -162.
Brooks, R.; Poore, A. & Bonser, S. 2004. Exploring the broader social context of a conceptually-rich science course: a collaborative learning program. UNSW Compendium of Good Practice in Teaching and Learning.
Blows, M.W. & Brooks, R. 2003. Measuring non-linear selection. The American Naturalist 162: 815- 820.
McNamara, J., Houston, A.I., dos Santos, M.M., Kokko, H., & Brooks, R. 2003. Quantifying male attractiveness. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 270: 1925 - 1932.
Blows, M.W., Kraft, P. & Brooks, R. 2003. Exploring complex fitness surfaces: multiple ornamentation and polymorphism in male guppies. Evolution 57: 622-630.
Kokko, H., Brooks, R., Jennions, M.D. & Morley, J. 2003. The evolution of mate choice and mating biases. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 270: 652-664.
Kokko, H. & Brooks, R. 2003. Sexy to die for? Sexual selection and the risk of extinction.Annales Zoologici Fennici. 40: 207-219.
Krützen, M., Sherwin, W.B., Connor, R.C., Barre, L.M., Van de Casteele, T., Mann, J. &Brooks, R. Contrasting evolutionary strategies within a population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 270: 497-502.
McAlpine, I. Brooks, R., & Scoufis, M. 2003. An application of online technologies to support collaborative learning in groups for a Bioscience course. ED-MEDIA 2003 – World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications.
Brooks, R. 2003. Variation in mate choice within guppy populations: multiple ornaments, population divergence and the maintenance of polymorphism. In Etges, W. & Noor, M. (ed.) The Genetics of Premating Isolation. Kluwer.
Gamble, S., Lindholm, A., Endler, J.A. & Brooks, R. 2003. Environmental variation and the maintenance of polymorphism: The effect of ambient light spectrum on mating behaviour and sexual selection in guppies. Ecology Letters 6: 463-472.
Fox. S., Brooks, R., Lewis, M.J. & Johnson, C.N. 2002. Polymorphism, mate choice and sexual selection in the Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae) Australian Journal of Zoology 50: 125-134.
Kokko, H., Brooks, R., McNamara, J. & Houston, A. 2002. The sexual selection continuum. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 269:1331-1340.
Brooks, R. 2002. Variation in mate choice within guppy populations: multiple ornaments, population divergence and the maintenance of polymorphism. Genetica. 116 (2-3): 343-358.
Brooks, R. & Endler, J.A. 2001. Female guppies agree to differ: phenotypic and genetic variation in mate choice behaviour and the consequences for sexual selection. Evolution 55: 1644-1655.
Brooks, R. & Kemp, D.J. 2001. Can older males deliver the good genes? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16: 308-313.
Brooks, R. & Endler, J.A. 2001. Direct and indirect selection and quantitative genetics of male traits in guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Evolution 55: 1002-1015.
Jennions, M.D. & Brooks, R. 2001. A sense of history. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16: 113-115.
Brooks, R. 2000. Negative genetic correlation between male sexual attractiveness and survival. Nature 406: 67-70.
Brooks, R. & Couldridge, V. 1999. Multiple sexual ornaments coevolve with multiple mating preferences. The American Naturalist 154: 37-45 .
Brooks, R. & Jennions, M.D. 1999. The dark side of sexual selection, Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 336-337.
Brooks, R. 1999. Mate choice copying in guppies: females avoid the place where they saw courtship. Behaviour 136: 411-421.
Alexander, G.J. & Brooks, R. 1999. Circannual rhythms of appetite and ecdysis in the elapid snake Hemachatus haemachatus . Copiea 99: 146-152.
Brooks, R. & Caithness, N. 1999. Intersexual and intrasexual selection, sneak copulation and male ornamentation in guppies (Poecilia reticulata). South African Journal of Zoology 34: 48-52.
Brooks, R. 1998. The importance of mate copying and cultural inheritance of mating preferences. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13: 45-6.
Brooks, R. & Osberg, D.C. 1997. Biological classification. In Osberg, D. (ed) College of Science: Biology Skills pp 15 - 19 Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg.
Brooks, R. 1996. Melanin pigment as a visual signal amplifier in male guppies.Naturwissenschaften 83: 39-41.
Brooks, R. 1996. Copying and the repeatability of mate choice. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 39: 323-329.
Brooks, R. & Caithness, N. 1995. Does a males attractiveness to a female depend onher previous experience? South African Journal of Science 91: 156-158.
Brooks, R. & Caithness, N. 1995. Multiple cues for female choice in a feral guppy population? Animal Behaviour 50: 301-307 .
Brooks, R. & Caithness, N. 1995. Manipulating a seemingly non-preferred ornament reveals a role in female choice. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 261: 7-10.
Brooks, R. & Caithness, N. 1995. Female Guppies use orange as a mate choice cue: a manipulative test. South African Journal of Zoology 30: 200-210.
Brooks, R.C. & Owen-Smith, N. 1994. Plant defences against mammalian herbivores:Are juvenile Acacia more heavily defended than mature trees. Bothalia 24(2).