Prof Christian Rutz

Professor of Biology

Harold Mitchell 
tel. 01334 463340
fax. 01334 463366


In a recent issue of Nature, we reported our discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow Corvus hawaiiensis. You can read the full paper for free here.






Following research as a Rhodes Scholar (DPhil), Junior Research Fellow (Postdoc) and BBSRC David Phillips Fellow (PI) at the University of Oxford, I transferred my group in 2012 to the University of St Andrews, to take up a Readership in the School of Biology. I have diverse research interests in the fields of animal ecology (behavioural ecology; population biology; predation dynamics), animal cognition (tool use; culture; social learning; comparative cognition), and conservation science (large-scale conservation schemes; policy making). My group’s principal research project is on the evolutionary, ecological and social contexts of tool-use behaviour in New Caledonian crows. I enjoy developing innovative, cutting-edge research methodologies, and led the teams that first deployed miniature video-cameras (2007, Science) and proximity loggers (2012, Current Biology) on wild birds – breakthroughs that were recognised with a string of awards and prizes (see below). I hold honorary appointments at three international research universities (New South Wales, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Oxford, UK), and was recently elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s ‘Young Academy of Scotland’.



December 2016: we have been invited to showcase our research on tool-using Hawaiian and New Caledonian crows at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, and are very grateful that the University of St Andrews has awarded us a Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund Award, to prepare our exhibit

10 August 2016: new paper out on 'Betty the crow' in Royal Society Open Science, with nice coverage in Nature, Science, New Scientist, The Guardian, and on BBC (and a great Altmetric score)

August 2016: Shoko was awarded a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research on New Caledonian crows

27 July 2016: joined eLife's Board of Reviewing Editors

18 November 2015: Shoko's and Barbara's paper on New Caledonian crows' hooked stick tools is out in BMC Biology

03 November 2015: James's big social network paper is out in Nature Communications

July 2015: joined group of scientific experts, to advise on work relating to the Bonn Convention, UN

20 May 2015: new paper on New Caledonian crows' safekeeping of foraging tools published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and covered as a Research Highlight in Nature.

2015: Guest Editor of Animal Biotelemetry (BMC), for the proceedings of the 5th International Bio-Logging Symposium; Associate Editor since September 2015

2013-2014: co-organised the 5th International Bio-Logging Symposium, Strasbourg, France

14-16 November 2014: crow research showcased as part of the 'Animal Cultures' exhibit at the Great British Bioscience Festival, to celebrate BBSRC's 20-year anniversary

02 October 2014: awarded the Hans Loehrl Prize of the Deutsche Ornithologen Gesellschaft (DO-G)

10 September 2014: awarded the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture of the British Science Association (delivered at the 2014 British Science Festival, Birmingham, UK)

05 March 2014: appointed Co-Director of the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences (IBANS)

30 October 2013: awarded the Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

07 October 2013: published a Theme Issue on Tool Use as Adaptation in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (guest-edited by D. Biro, M. Haslam and C. Rutz)



Schneider, W, Rutz, C, Hedwig, B & Bailey, NW 2018, 'Vestigial singing behaviour persists after the evolutionary loss of song in crickets' Biology Letters, vol 14, no. 2, 20170654. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2017.0654
Rutz, C & Deans, S 2018, 'Nuthatch uses tool in London park' Ethology, vol 124, no. 2, pp. 135-138. DOI: 10.1111/eth.12714
St Clair, JJH, Klump, BC, Sugasawa, S, Higgott, CG, Colegrave, N & Rutz, C 2018, 'Hook innovation boosts foraging efficiency in tool-using crows' Nature Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0429-7
Sugasawa, S, Klump, BC, St Clair, JJH & Rutz, C 2017, 'Causes and consequences of tool shape variation in New Caledonian crows' Current Biology, vol 27, no. 24, e4, pp. 3885-3890. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.028
Rutz, C, Klump, BC, Komarczyk, L, Leighton, R, Kramer, J, Wischnewski, S, Sugasawa, S, Morrissey, MB, James, R, St Clair, J, Switzer, RA & Masuda, BM 2016, 'Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow' Nature, vol 537, no. 7620, pp. 403-407. DOI: 10.1038/nature19103
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