Centre for Evolutionary Biology

Leigh Simmons

Leigh Simmons

Professor Leigh Simmons

Director/ARC Professorial Fellow
Evolutionary Biology, Centre for

Contact details
Centre for Evolutionary Biology
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2221
+61 8 6488 1029
BSc PhD Nott.
I received my PhD from Nottingham University in 1986 and held a series of postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Liverpool until 1995 when I moved to UWA. I received an ARC Federation Fellowship in 2004 and was elected to the Australian Academy in 2009. I am Editor-in-Chief of the journal Behavioral Ecology, Editor of Advances in the Study of Behavior, and on the editorial boards of Journal of Ethology and Austral Entomology.

My research uses both vertebrates and invertebrates to test the predictions and assumptions of theoretical models of sexual selection and life history evolution.
I currently hold two ARC Discovery Project grants that fund research into sperm competition and the evolution of multiple mating by females using insects, mice and frogs as model systems. I am also engaged in research on sexual selection on humans. Collectively, these research programs seek to determine the direction and strength of selection acting on male and female reproductive strategies, and on the morphological and life history traits that contribute to fitness, from the whole organism to its gametes. My lab currently hosts collaborative research programs involving 7 PhD students and 6 postdoctoral researchers, and has hosted research fellows from Sweden, Finland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Opportunities are available for researchers at all levels, and I encourage interested individuals to apply under the schemes outlined on our Courses page.

Key research
Sexual Selection
Sperm Competition
Ecological Immunology
Animal Genitalia
Alternative Mating tactics
Evolutionary and Ecological Genetics
Human Behavioural Ecology




Simmons, L.W. 2001. Sperm Competition and its Evolutionary Consequences in the Insects. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Lucus, J.R. & Simmons, L.W. (Eds.) 2006. Essays in Animal Behaviour. Celebrating 50 years of Animal Behaviour. Elsevier, London.

Simmons, L.W. & Ridsdill-Smith, T.J. 2011. Ecology and Evolution of Dung Beetles. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.

Shuker, D.M. & Simmons, L.W. 2014. The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford.


Travers, L.M., Garcia-Gonzalez, F., & Simmons, L.W. 2015. Live fast die young life history in females: evolutionary trade-off between early life mating and lifespan in female Drosophila melanogaster. Scientific Reports, 5, 15469; doi: 10.1038/srep15469

Sutter, A., Simmons, L.W., Lindhom, A.K. & Firman, R.C. 2016. Function of copulatory plugs in house mice: mating behavior and paternity outcomes of rival males. Behavioral Ecology, 27, 185-195.

Travers, L.M., Simmons, L.W. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2016. Additive genetic variance in polyandry enables its evolution but polyandry is unlikely to evolve through sexy or good sperm processes. J. Evol. Biol., available online early

Zhi Foo, Y., Nakagawa, S., Rhodes, G., & Simmons, L.W. 2016. The effects of sex hormones on immune function: a meta-analysis. Biological Reviews, available online early DOI: 10.1111/brv.12243

McCullough, E.L. & Simmons, L.W. 2016. Selection on male physical performance during male-male competition and female choice. Behav. Ecol., 27, doi:10.1093/beheco/arw033

Dougherty, L.R., Simmons, L.W. & Shuker, D.M. 2016. Post-copulatory sexual selection when a female mates once. Animal Behavior, in press

Simmons, L.W. & Fitzpatrick, J.L. 2016. Sperm competition and the coevolution of pre- and post-copulatory traits: weapons evolve faster than testes among onthophagine dung beetles. Evolution, in press

Funding received
Current Funding

ARC Discovery Project (2011-2015). The evolutionary biology of seminal fluid.

ARC Discovery Project (2016-2019). Paternal effects: non-genetic inheritance via seminal fluid?

Associate Investigator

ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders

Behavioural Ecology (ANIM3365)
Evolutionary Biology (ANIM5502)
Current external positions
Editorial Boards

Editor-in-Chief, Behavioral Ecology

Editor, Advances in the Study of Behavior

Board Member, Journal of Ethology

Board Member, Austral Entomology
Research profile
Research profile and publications

Centre for Evolutionary Biology

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 4 April, 2017 1:24 PM