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Doctor Julia Mackenzie

Senior Technician in Animal Behaviour
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences
Areas of Expertise:
Animal and environmental biology

Julia is a technician and a researcher studying avian urban ecology. She is particularly interested in assessing the consequences of urban living on breeding success in Parid species.

[email protected]


Julia has worked at Anglia Ruskin University since 2004, studying for her PhD whilst working full time as an animal behaviour technician. She is a member of the Behavioural Ecology Research Group.

Julia's PhD assessed the impact of non-native flora and urbanisation on breeding success in blue tits and great tits. Breeding success was found to be poor in urban environments, when compared to local woodland, due to the effects of patchy and variable habitat on foraging behaviour.
Julia is now the lead investigator collecting long term breeding data (since 2003) on Parids in urban habitats and works collaboratively with Dr Nancy Harrison and Dr Shelley Hinsley (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology). She also collaborates with Cambridge City Council and Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

Research interests
  • Impact of exotic flora on avian breeding success
  • Consequences of habitat fragmentation and urbanisation for avian populations
  • Avian foraging behaviour

Julia is a member of our Applied Ecology Research Group and Behavioural Ecology Research Group.


Julia contributes to various postgraduate and undergraduate modules within the Animal and Environmental area often teaching students practical field skills and lecturing on aspects of bird breeding biology.

Julia has knowledge of, and technical expertise in, various pieces of equipment related to the ecological/zoological fields, which she uses to aid teaching.


PhD in Ornithology - Anglia Ruskin University (2010).

BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour with Psychology – Anglia Ruskin University (2001).

Memberships, editorial boards

• Reviewer for journals including Ibis and Ethology and for a new chapter in Biomeasurement (3rd edition).

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

• 2015 – Present: Julia runs bird song tours and lectures for the ‘Friends’ of Cambridge University Botanic Garden.
• 2013: £1600 won from Anglia Ruskin University Animal and Environmental Research Group to employ an intern to conduct a pilot study examining stable isotope of nestling feathers.
• 2010: £1250 won from Anglia Ruskin University Animal and Environmental Research Group to employ an intern to analyse nestling faecal sacs.
• 2009: £5000 research enhancement grant won from Anglia Ruskin University Faculty of Science and Technology for nest box camera research.

Selected recent publications

Mackenzie, J.A., Hinsley, S.A. & Harrison, N.M., 2014. Habitat selection by birds breeding in urban habitat and the consequences for fitness. Ibis 156, pp.591–605.

Whitehouse M.J., Harrison N.M., Mackenzie J., Hinsley S.A., 2013. Preferred Habitat of Breeding Birds May Be Compromised by Climate Change: Unexpected Effects of an Exceptionally Cold, Wet Spring. PLoS ONE, 8(9): e75536. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075536.

Hinsley, S.A., Hill, R.A., Bellamy, P.E., Broughton, R.K., Harrison, N.M., Mackenzie, J.A., Speakman, J.R. & Ferns, P.N., 2009. Do highly modified landscapes favour generalists at the expense of specialists? An example using woodland birds. Landscape Research, 34, pp.509-26.

Recent presentations and conferences

Mackenzie, J.A., Harrison, N.M. & Hinsley, S.A., 2013. Urban habitat and its effects on Parid foraging behaviours and foraging techniques during the breeding season. Poster presentation: Behaviour2013, joint meeting of the 33rd International Ethological Conference and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Newcastle University, Gateshead, UK.

Mackenzie, J.A., 2011. Using GIS to study the foraging preferences of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major). Oral presentation: Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Easter Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.

Mackenzie, J.A., 2010. Floral origin, foraging preferences and breeding success in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major). Oral presentation: Sixth International Hole-Nesting Birds Conference, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.

Mackenzie, J.A., Harrison, N.M. & Hinsley, S.A., 2009. Floral origin and breeding success in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major). Poster presentation: 31st International Ethological Conference Congress, Rennes University 1, Rennes, France.

Mackenzie, J.A., 2008. Studies in Cambridge University Botanic Garden on the impact of flora on breeding success in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major). Oral presentation: PlantNetwork Spring Conference, Cambridge University, UK.

Mackenzie, J.A., 2007. Impact of non-native flora on breeding success of blue and great tits. Poster presentation (1st prize): 85th Annual Meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA.