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Dr Laura Kelley

Dr Laura Kelley

Marie Curie Fellow

Department of Psychology
University of Cambridge
Downing Street
Cambridge CB2 3EB


I have a broad interest in animal behaviour and sensory ecology. My research primarily focuses on the production and perception of visual and acoustic signals, including visual illusions in the sexual displays of great bowerbirds and the acquisition and function of vocal mimicry in songbirds.

Before joining the University of Cambridge I was a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Anglia Ruskin University.  From 2010 to June 2012 I was a research fellow at Deakin University in Australia, working with Prof John Endler on the sexual displays of great bowerbirds. In 2010 I completed my PhD on vocal mimicry in spotted bowerbirds at the University of Edinburgh, supervised by Dr Sue Healy.


  • behaviour
  • cognition
  • visual perception

Key Publications

Endler, J. A., Gaburro, J. & Kelley, L. A. (2014) Visual effects in great bowerbird sexual displays and their implications for signal design. Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Kelley, L. A. & Kelley, J. L. (2014) Perceptual biases and animal illusions: a response to comments on Kelley and Kelley. Behavioral Ecology, 25, 468-469. 

Kelley, L. A. & Kelley, J. L. (2014) Animal visual illusion and confusion: the importance of a perceptual perspective. Behavioral Ecology, 25, 450-463

Kelley, L. A. & Endler, J. A. (2012) Male great bowerbirds create forced perspective illusions with consistently different individual quality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 20980-20985.

Kelley, L. A. & Healy, S. D. (2012) Vocal mimicry in spotted bowerbirds is associated with an alarming context. Journal of Avian Biology, 43, 525-530.

Endler, J. A., Mielke, P. W. Jr & Kelley, L. A. (2012) Response to comment on “Illusions promote mating success in great bowerbirds.” Science, 337, 292.

Kelley, L. A. & Endler, J. A. (2012) Illusions promote mating success in great bowerbirds. Science, 335, 335-338.

Kelley, L. A. & Healy, S. D. (2011) The mimetic repertoire of the spotted bowerbird Ptilonorhychus maculatus. Naturwissenschaften, 98, 501-507.

Kelley, L. A. & Healy, S. D. (2011) Quick guide: vocal mimicry. Current Biology, 21, 9 – 10.

Kelley, L. A. & Healy, S. D. (2010) Vocal mimicry in male bowerbirds: who learns from whom? Biology Letters, 6, 626 – 629.

Healy, S. D., Bacon, I. E., Haggis, O., Harris, A. P. & Kelley, L. A. (2009) Explanations for variation in cognitive ability: Behavioural ecology meets comparative cognition. Behavioural Processes, 80, 288-294.

Kelley, L. A., Coe, R. L., Madden, J.R & Healy, S.D. (2008) Vocal mimicry in songbirds. Animal Behaviour, 76, 521-528.