Dr Julia P Myatt SFHEA

Dr Julia P Myatt

School of Biosciences
Acting Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences (2018-2019)
Director of Natural Sciences for Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences
Associate Professor in Behavioural Ecology and Morphology

Contact details

+ 44 (0)121 414 5598
View my research portal
416, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

As part of the School of Biosciences, Julia is a Senior Lecturer in Behavioural Ecology and Morphology, teaching on a range of modules, across all years, including field courses.

Her research interests include the morphology-behaviour-habitat interface in non-human great apes (as part of the LEBL group in Biosciences) and the collective behaviour of group-living animals, including free-ranging sheep and African wild dogs (with the Royal Veterinary College, University of London). She has also worked on the dynamics of hunting in various African carnivores and the locomotor abilities of dogs to out-manoeuvre their prey. Julia is an experienced field biologist, working in the forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, the Okavango Delta, Botswana and the wilds of Norfolk!

Julia’s research has often been interdisciplinary, working with computer scientists, engineers and vets and this interest has led her to develop a key role as part of the Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences programme here at Birmingham, in particular, leading on the Natural Sciences. Her interests span the huge breadth offered at Birmingham and she is currently working with staff from English, History and Human Geography to develop further teaching and research opportunities linked to Animal Behaviour. She is also interested in interdisciplinary teaching and how we can better equip the modern student with the flexible and dynamic skills required by the modern workplace.


BSc (hons)


Sept 2018-Sept 2019: Acting Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, University of Birmingham.

Sept 2018- ongoing: Senior Lecturer in the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham.

Sept 2013- ongoing: Director of Natural Sciences for Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences (College of Life and Environmental Sciences lead).

Sept 2012-Sept 2018: Lecturer in the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham.

Oct 2012-Sept 2012: Postdoctoral Researcher (Cooperate aerodynamics and radio-based dynamic localization) at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London with Prof Alan Wilson (RVC) and Prof Steve Hailes (UCL), funded by EPSRC.

Oct 2006-Oct 2010: PhD student at the University of Birmingham supervised by Dr Susannah Thorpe (Applying an ecomorphological framework to the study of orangutan positional behavior and the morphological variation within the non-human great apes), funded by BBSRC.

August 2005-August 2006: Research Technician at Lancaster University in the Insect Ecology group with Prof Ken Wilson.

Sept 2001-July 2005: First class, BSc (hons) Applied Biology, University of Bath. Including 12 month-position at Syngenta working in the Entomology team.


Dr Julia Myatt is the module organiser for the third year module ‘Living in Groups: Collective Behaviour in Animals’. She also teaches aspects of animal biology and human evolution in various modules across the years, including the ‘Adaptations to Aquatic Environments’ field course.

Julia also offers a number of final year BSc and MSci zoo-based projects.


Dr Julia Myatt’s research has focused on understanding the relationship between the morphology of primates and the behaviours they perform in the complex forest environment (morphlogy-behaviour-habitat interface). She has a strong interest in all aspects of animal locomotion and behaviour, from the level of the muscle fibre through to the movement patterns and social interactions of whole groups. She is particularly interested in the relationship with the natural environment and how this shapes the evolution of the systems observed. More recently Julia’s research has focused on the captive welfare of non-human great apes and together with colleagues in the School of Biosciences has been working on an Enclosure Design Tool to ensure captive apes are able to emulate wild-type behaviours, with Julia focusing on the importance of social interactions.

Another element of Julia’s research is in the provision and effectiveness of interdisciplinary teaching at an undergraduate level.

Other activities

Dr Julia Myatt has been heavily involved with STEM outreach for many years. She also currently sits on the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Education Committee.


Hubel, T, Myatt, J.P., Jordan, N. Dewhirst, O., McNutt, J. Weldon. And Wilson, A.M. (2016). Additive opportunistic capture explains group hunting benefits in African wild dogs. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11033

Hubel, T, Myatt, J.P., Jordan, N. Dewhirst, O., McNutt, J. Weldon. And Wilson, A.M. (2016). Energy cost and return for hunting in African wild dogs and cheetahs. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11034

King, A.J., Myatt, J.P., Furtbauer, I., Oesch, N., Dunbar, R.I., Sumner, S., Usherwood, J.R., Hailes, S. and Brown, M.R. (2015). Social density processes regulate the functioning and performance of foraging human teams. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep18260

Bailey, I.E., Myatt, J.P. and Wilson, A.M. (2013). Group hunting within the carnivora: physiological, cogntivie and environmental influences on strategy and cooperation. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. 67: 1-17.

Usherwood, J.R., Channon, A.J., Myatt, J.P., Rankin, J.W. and Hubel, T.Y. (2012). The human foot and heel-sole-toe walking strategy: a mechanism enabling an inverted pendular gait with low isometric force?. Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

van Casteren, A; Sellers, W.I., Thorpe, S.K.S., Coward, S., Crompton, R.H., Myatt, J.P. and Ennos, A.R. (2012). Nest-building orangutans demonstrate engineering know-how to produce safe, comfortable beds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Myatt, J.P., Crompton, R.H. and Payne-Davis et al. (2012). Functional adaptation in the forelimb muscles of non-human great apes. Journal of Anatomy.

King A.J., Cheng, L., Starke, S.D. and Myatt, J.P. (2011). Is the true 'wisdom of the crowd' to copy successful individuals?. Biology Letters.

Myatt J.P. and Thorpe, S.K.S. (2011). Postural strategies employed by orangutans (Pongo abelii) during feeding in the terminal branch niche. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 146: 73-82

Myatt J.P., Crompton, R.H. and Thorpe, S.K.S (2011). Hindlimb muscle architecture in non-human great apes and a comparison of methods for analysing inter-species variation. Journal of Anatomy. 219: 150-166

Myatt J.P., Crompton, R.H. and Thorpe, S.K.S (2011). A new method for recording complex positional behaviours and habitat interactions in primates. Folia Primatologica. 83: 13-24

Myatt J.P., Schilling, N. and Thorpe, S.K.S. (2011). Distribution patterns of fibre types in the tricep surae muscle group of chimpanzees and orangutans. Journal of Anatomy. 218: 402-412

Portugal, S.J., Thorpe, S.K.S., Green, J.A., Myatt, J.P. and Butler, P.J. (2009). Testing the use/disuse hypothesis: pectoral leg muscle changes in captive barnacle geese Branta leucopsis during wing moult. Journal of Experimental Biology. 212: 2401-2410.

Cotter, S.C., Myatt, J.P., Benskin, C.M.H. and Wilson, K. (2008). Selection for cuticular melanism reveals immune function and life-history trade-offs in Spodoptera littoralis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 21: 1744-1754.

View all publications in research portal