Exploring the world of behavior

Welcome to the Bell Lab

Credit: Brian Stauffer

Research in the Bell lab is focused on understanding why individual animals behave differently from each other. Even an individual fish, for example, behaves differently from other fish, through time and across situations. We study the proximate and ultimate causes of individual variation in threespined stickleback.

Current Research

Male poking nest


Brain slice HE stain


Emerging from shelter


6hr embryos


Latest Posts
Damaris Miranda and Tara Pavithran present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium!April 16, 2023Damaris was supervised by Kevin Neumann and Tara by Meghan Maciejewski. They did a great job! [...] Read more...
A very successful retreat for the Alaska project. We are thrilled to be a part of the “greatest eco-evo experiment ever” and had a great time!April 16, 2023The behaviour axis, including (from left) Alexis Heckley, Chad Brock, Rionach McCarthy, Alison Bell, Tina Barbasch, Kiyoko Gotanda, Kevin Neumann, Allison Roth, Eric Neumann and Brendan Byrd Kevin Neumann presenting findings from summer 2022 Tina Barbasch presenting at the retreat Eric Arredondo shows results from summer 2022 and plans for 2023 [...] Read more...
Meta-analysis on predator-induced transgenerational plasticity in animalsNovember 2, 2022Check out our recent paper in Oecologia on predator-induced TGP! This project was a massive collaborative effect by a great team of international colleagues, originally brought together at a Gordon Conference on predator-prey interactions. We marshaled together an extensive dataset and applied rigorous methods and found very strong evidence for predator-induced TGP. However, we ultimately found very little evidence for popular hypotheses in the literature. Clearly TGP is real, but our understanding is incomplete. [...] Read more...
Meg Tucker presents at SACNASOctober 28, 2022Meg presenting a poster at the SACNAS conference in Puerto Rico [...] Read more...
Evidence that behavioral flexibility and boldness go hand in hand when animals disperse into and adapt to new environmentsAugust 1, 2022Miles Bensky took advantage of a series of replicated populations of sticklebacks in Alaska that vary in time since establishment to show evidence that boldness is important for getting into new habitats, and behavioral flexibility is favored when adapting to them. The paper was just published in the American Naturalist – check it out! This video shows a fish during the barrier task, which was used to measure behavioral flexibility. The fish has been trained to find food (bloodworm) in the Petri dish outside the shelter, but a transparent barrier has now been added between the shelter and the food. Sticklebacks from well established freshwater populations spend less time persisting at the apex of the barrier trying to reach the food (i.e. they are more flexible), relative to sticklebacks from new freshwater populations or from ancestral marine populations. This video shows a fish emerging from a shelter. Some individuals consistently emerge faster than others, and we interpret quick emergence as relatively “bolder” behavior. Sticklebacks from ancestral marine populations emerge faster than sticklebacks from derived freshwater populations, and these differences are maintained in a common garden environment, suggesting that they have a heritable basis. Moreover, individuals that were more bold were less flexible, and this behavioral syndrome was also apparent at both the family and population levels. [...] Read more...
Alison presents a plenary at the stickleback conference in IcelandJuly 26, 2022It was an incredible meeting in a beautiful setting! Alison delivers a talk to the audience of stickleback enthusiasts. Gorgeous scenery in the village of Hólar. Also a chance to visit with former Bell lab intern Marion Dellinger, now working on a PhD! [...] Read more...