Dr Diane Colombelli-Négrel


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Interests

Animal Behaviour: Birds are a model system to understand human language, because we share with birds similar brain patterns and the ability to learn acoustic signals via imitative learning. This research investigates a critical, yet poorly researched stage in language and song acquisition, embryonic learning, and tests for the conditions that limit embryonic learning and vocal production. It provides the first evidence for specialised sensorimotor learning in non-human embryos, which opens new windows of opportunity to comprehend the development of imitative vocal learning (including human speech) during embryonic stages.

Biodiversity and Conservation: This research explores the mechanisms underlying bird population declines and the processes limiting species distribution, with a focus on little penguins. This project uses a multidisciplinary approach mixing behavioural responses to environmental changes, population genetics and ecological modelling. My research was the first one to found evidence of blood parasite infections in SA little penguins. Very little is known about the impact of such parasites on penguins and even less on how they impact population trends.


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Ecology and conservation
  • Evolutionary biology and palaeontology

Supervisory Interests

  • Animal behaviour
  • Bio-acoustics
  • Conservation


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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