prof. Székely Tamás

Prof. Tamás Székely

Honorary Professor

Contact details

Phone: +36 52 512900 ext. 62340

Email: T.Szekely “at”


Personal statement

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in social behaviour, and also a conservationist supporting biodiversity conservation. My research skills include phylogenetic analyses, experimental and observational analyses of behaviour in wild populations, and theoretical modelling. I published over 320 peer reviewed research articles and book chapters, and 4 books, most recently on Social behaviour: genes, ecology and evolution (2010, Cambridge University Press). One of my strengths is combining different tools and approaches to understand evolution of traits such as mating systems, parental care and sexual size dimorphism. I work from genes and genomes to individuals and populations: I believe good science must be integrative.


I am primarily a researcher and a university teacher: over my full career I taught at universities and had/have teams of students, post-docs and collaborators working with me. I have supervised 33 PhD students and mentored 16 post-docs and research fellows; vast majority are employed in academia/research institutions as professors or independent investigators. I was a visiting professor at Harvard University, and at the University of Groningen, Bielefeld and Göttingen. I received a Humboldt Award, and currently I am a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award Holder. In 2019 I was elected a Foreign Member of Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


My current research is focusing on two major themes: (i) evolution of mating systems, parental care and sex roles; my objective here is to understand how male and female reproductive strategies evolved in vertebrates. (ii) We are recently discovering that an overlooked component of social systems (and of breeding system variation) is adult sex ratio (ASR). My objective here is to reveal the causes and implications of ASR variations in vertebrates. Obviously, (i) and (ii) are related, and my ultimate objective is to reveal their relationships. In addition, I am a dedicated conservation biologist: I founded an award-winning conservation NGO in W Africa in 2010 (Maio Biodiversity Foundation) and coordinated the NGO’s successful strategy as President until recently.


Honours & awards (selected since 2010)

  • Foreign Member of Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2019)

  • Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award (2017)

  • Honorary Professor of Debrecen University (2017)

  • Visiting Professor at Beijing Normal University, China (2017)

  • Fellow & Focal Group Leader of Advanced Institute of Berlin, Germany (2017)

  • NWO Visiting Professor, University of Groningen, The Netherland (2015)

  • Visiting Professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China (2014)

  • H umboldt Award at University of Göttingen, Germany (2012)

  • Mercator Visiting Professor at University of Bielefeld, Germany (2012)

  • Visiting Professor at University of Groningen, The Netherlands (2011)

  • Maio Biodiversity Foundation (Fundação Maio Biodiversidade, FMB), President & Founder, Cape Verde (2010)

Research interests

  • Sexual selection, sex roles and mating systems

  • Parental care evolution

  • Sexual size dimorphism

  • Sex ratio evolution

  • Wetland & waterbird conservation


Popular science

  • Darwin got sexual selection backwards, research suggests, The Conversation, June 17, 2021


  • C heating is more society’s problem than an affair of the heart, The Conversation, February 17, 2016



Selected publications (since 2010)

 For full CV including list of publications see here

For downloading publications, see my ReserchGate website


Jones, W., L. J. Eberhart-Hertel, R. Freckleton, J. I. Hoffman, O. Krüger, B. K. Sandercock, O. Vincze, S. Zefania & T. Székely. 2021. Exceptionally high apparent adult survival in three tropical species of plovers in Madagascar. Journal of Avian Biology (accepted)

Fresneau, N., Y. Lee, W-C Lee, A. Kosztolányi, T. Székely & A. Liker. 2021. Sex role reversal and high frequency of social polyandry in the pheasant-tailed jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus). Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution (in press).

Patino-Martinez, J., L. Dos Passos, I. O. Afonso, A. Teixidor, M. Tiwari, T. Székely & R. Moreno. 2021. Globally important refuge for the loggerhead sea turtle: Maio Island, Cabo Verde. Oryx (in press).

Mokos, J., I Scheuring, A. Liker, R. P. Freckleton & T. Székely. 2021. Degree of anisogamy is unrelated to the intensity of sexual selection. Scientific Reports 11: 19424.

Kubelka, V., B. K. Sandercock, T. Székely & R. P. Freckleton. 2021. Animal migration to northern latitudes: environmental changes and increasing threats. Trends in Ecology & Evolution (accepted).

Halimubieke, N., A. Pirrie, T. Székely & B. Ashby. 2021. How do biases in sex ratio and disease characteristics affect the spread of sexually transmitted infections? Journal of Theoretical Biology (accepted).

Liker, A, V. Bókony, I. Pipoly, J-F Lemaitre, J-M Gaillard, T. Székely, R. P. Freckleton. 2021. Evolution of large males is associated with female-skewed adult sex ratios in amniotes. Evolution (accepted).

Szemán, K, A. Liker & T. Székely. 2021. Social organization in ungulates: revisiting Jarman’s hypotheses. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 34: 604-613.