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Dr Miranda Dyson

Profile summary

Professional biography

I received my formal education in South Africa. My postgraduate work at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg focussed on breeding behaviour and communication in African frogs with emphasis on female mate choice in the African reed frog, Hyperolius marmoratus. After completing my  PhD in 1988, I took up a postdoctoral position at the University of Natal in Durban working on reproductive behaviour and mate choice in the fiddler crab, Uca vocans. Before taking up my post at the Open University, I worked on gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor and Hyla chrysoscelis) with Professor Carl Gerhardt at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, mate choice in Mojorcan midwife toads (Alytes muletensis), in collaboration with Professor Tim Halliday and Dr Sarah Bush (The Open University) and auditory perceptual abilities of barn owls (Tyto alba) with Professor Georg Klump (Technische Universitat, Munich). 

On joining the OU in 1995, I continued my research on African reed frogs in South Africa and supervised PhD projects investigating  the reproductive biology of the midwife toad, Alytes muletensis, duetting behaviour in an African shrike, the bokmakierie (Telophorus zeylonus),  microhabitat requirements of the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) and the conservation of the endangered Madagascan tortoise, Pyxis arachniodies.


Research interests

I am a Behavioural Ecologist and my primary interest lies with animal communication and sexual selection. Much of my research has focused on vocal communication with an emphasis on behavioural investigations of intraspecific female mate choice in anuran amphibians. I also have an interest in  fiddler crab reproductive behaviour and mate choice, the mating behaviour and male parental care in giant water bugs and duetting in birds. My current research interests include the relationship between bumblebees and snakeshead fritillaries on floodplain meadows. 

Teaching interests

During my time at the Open University I have written and /or contributed to, course material on animal physiology, brain and behaviour, reproductive strategies, vertebrate sensory systems, hearing in humans, biological psychology, reproduction in fiddler crabs and anurans, bird migration, evolutionary biology and terrestrial ecosystems

OpenLearn Courses


Fire Ecology:

Impact and engagement

External collaborations

BBC Natural History Unit

Editor: Animal Behaviour


Teaching and learning in ecology: a horizon scan of emerging challenges and solutions (2021-01)
Cooke, Julia; Araya, Yoseph; Bacon, Karen L.; Bagniewska, Joanna M.; Batty, Lesley; Bishop, Tom R.; Burns, Moya; Charalambous, Magda; Daversa, David R.; Dougherty, Liam R.; Dyson, Miranda; Fisher, Adam M.; Forman, Dan; Garcia, Cristina; Harney, Ewan; Hesselberg, Thomas; John, Elizabeth A; Knell, Rob; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Mauchline, Alice L.; Peacock, Julie; Pernetta, Angelo P.; Pritchard, Jeremy; Sutherland, William J.; Thomas, Rebecca L.; Tigar, Barbara; Wheeler, Philip; White, Rachel L.; Worsfold, Nicholas T. and Lewis, Zenobia
Oikos, 130(1) (pp. 15-28)

The role of claw color in species recognition and mate choice in a fiddler crab (2020-09-04)
Dyson, M. L.; Perez, D. M.; Curran, T.; McCullough, E. L. and Backwell, P. R. Y.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 74, Article 116

Thermal and desiccation constraints drive territory preference in fiddler crabs (2019-09)
Darnell, M. Zachary; Backwell, Patricia R.Y.; Stockbridge, Jackson; Dyson, Miranda L. and Munguia, Pablo
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 518, Article 151173

Alternative mating tactics and male mating success in two species of fiddler crab (2016-01)
Dyson, Miranda L. and Backwell, Patricia R.Y.
Behaviour, 153(12) (pp. 1403-1418)

Factors Affecting Mating Tactics in the Fiddler Crab, Uca vocans hesperiae (2008-01)
Dyson, Miranda
Ethology, 114(1) (pp. 75-84)

The mating strategy of Alytes muletensis: some males are less ready to mate than females (2003)
Lea, Jerry; Halliday, Tim. R. and Dyson, Mandy
Amphibia-Reptilia, 24(2) (pp. 169-180)

Phonotaxis to advertisement calls by midwife toads (Alytes muletensis) is not necessarily related to mating (2002)
Lea, Jerry; Dyson, Mandy and Halliday, Timothy
Amphibia-Reptilia, 23(2) (pp. 151-159)

Calling by male midwife toads stimulates females to maintain reproductive condition (2001-02)
Lea, Jeremy; Dyson, Miranda and Halliday, Timothy
Animal Behaviour, 61(2) (pp. 373-377)

Reproductive stage and history affect the phonotactic preferences of female midwife toads, Alytes muletensis (2000-10)
Lea, Jeremy; Halliday, Tim and Dyson, Miranda
Animal Behaviour, 60(4) (pp. 423-427)

Absolute hearing thresholds and critical masking ratios in the European barn owl: a comparison with other owls (1998-04)
Dyson, M. L.; Klump, G. M. and Gauger, B.
Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 182(5) (pp. 695-702)

Phonotaxis by female Majorcan midwife toads, Alytes muletensis (1998-03)
Dyson, Miranda L.; Bush, Sarah L. and Halliday, Tim R.
Behaviour, 135(2) (pp. 213-230)

Success breeds success in mating male reed frogs, Hyperolius marmoratus (1998)
Dyson, Miranda L.; Henzi, S. Peter; Halliday, Timothy R. and Barrett, Louise
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 265(1404) (pp. 1417-1421)

Selective phonotaxis by males in the Majorcan midwife toad (1996-07-22)
Bush, Sarah L.; Dyson, Miranda L. and Halliday, Timothy R.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 263(1372) (pp. 913-917)

Dynamic properties of advertisement calls of gray tree frogs: patterns of variability and female choice (1996)
Gerhardt, H. Carl; Dyson, Miranda L. and Tanner, Steven D.
Behavioral Ecology, 7(1) (pp. 7-18)

Chorus attendance by male and female painted reed frogs (Hyperolius marmoratus): environmental factors and selection pressures. (1995-06)
Henzi, S. P.; Dyson, M. L.; Piper, S. E.; Passmore, N. E. and Bishop, P. J.
Functional Ecology, 9(3) (pp. 485-491)

The effect of changes in the relative timing of signals during phonotaxis of the reed frog, Hyperolius marmoratus (1994-09-03)
Dyson, Miranda L.; Henzi, S. Peter and Passmore, Neville I.
Animal Behaviour, 48(3) (pp. 679-685)

Female treefrogs do not avoid heterospecific calls as they approach conspecific calls: implications for the mechanisms of mate choice (1994-06)
Gerhardt, H. Carl; Dyson, Miranda L.; Tanner, Steven D. and Murphy, Christopher G.
Animal Behaviour, 47(6) (pp. 1323-1332)

Effect of Intermale Spacing on Female Frequency Preferences in the Painted Reed Frog (1992-12-18)
Dyson, Miranda L. and Passmore, Neville I.
Copeia, 1992(4) (pp. 1111-1114)

Inter-male spacing and aggression in African Painted Reed Frogs, Hyperolius marmoratus (1992-12)
Dyson, Miranda L. and Passmore, Neville I.
Ethology, 91(3) (pp. 237-247)

Male behaviour and correlates of mating success in a natural population of African Painted Reed frogs (Hyperolius marmoratus) (1992)
Dyson, Miranda L.; Passmore, Neville I.; Bishop, Philip J. and Henzi, S. Peter
Herpetologica, 48(2) (pp. 236-246)

The effect of rainfall on interclutch interval in painted reed frogs (Hyperolius marmoratus) (1990-09-19)
Telford, Steven R. and Dyson, Miranda L.
Copeia, 1990(3) (pp. 644-648)

The relationship between altitude and group size in mountain baboons (Papio cynocephalus ursinus) (1990-08)
Henzi, S. P.; Dyson, M. L. and Deenik, A.
International Journal of Primatology, 11(4) (pp. 319-325)

Mate choice only occurs in small choruses of painted reed frogs Hyperolius marmoratus. (1989)
Telford, Steven R.; Dyson, Miranda L. and Passmore, Neville I.
Bioacoustics, 2(1) (pp. 47-53)

The combined effect of intensity and the temporal relationship of stimuli on the phonotactic responses of female painted reed frogs Hyperolius marmoratus. (1988-09)
Dyson, Miranda L. and Passmore, Neville I.
Animal Behaviour, 36(5) (pp. 1555-1556)

Two-choice phonotaxis in Hyperolius marmoratus (Anura: Hyperoliidae): the effect of temporal variation in presented stimuli (1988-06)
Dyson, Miranda L. and Passmore, Neville I.
Animal Behaviour, 36(3) (pp. 648-652)

Some determinants of the mating system in a population of painted reed frogs (Hyperolius marmoratus). (1988)
Telford, Steven R. and Dyson, Miranda L.
Behaviour, 106(3) (pp. 265-278)

The effect of call sound pressure level on the selective phonotaxis of female Hyperolius marmoratus. (1985)
Dyson, Miranda
South African Journal of Science, 81 (pp. 209-211)

Contests in amphibians (2013-05)
Dyson, Miranda L.; Rheichert, Michael S. and Halliday, Tim R.
In: Hardy, Ian and Briffa, Mark eds. Animal Contests (pp. 228-257)
ISBN : 9780521887106 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge

Courtship behaviour (2010-03)
Dyson, Miranda
In: Mills, Daniel S.; Marchant-Forde, Jeremy N.; McGreevy, Paul D.; Morton, David B.; Nicol, Christine J.; Phillips, Clive J. C.; Sandoe, Peter and Swaisgood, Ronald R. eds. The Encyclopaedia of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (pp. 145-148)
ISBN : 9780851997247 | Publisher : CAB International Publishing | Published : Oxford, UK

Decoding the frog chorus (2002)
Dyson, Miranda and Gerhardt, H. C.
In: Halliday, Tim and Adler, Kraig eds. The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians (pp. 92-95)
ISBN : 198525079 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK

Environmental variation: the effects on vertebrate mating systems with special reference to ectotherms (2000)
Dyson, Miranda L.
In: Apollonio, Marco; Festa-Bianch, Marco and Mainardi, Danilo eds. Vertebrate Mating Systems: Proceedings of the 14th Course of the International School of Ethology. The Science and Culture Series - Ethology (pp. 140-157)
ISBN : 978-981-02-4260-2 | Publisher : World Scientific | Published : London

The auditory fovea of the barn owl - no correlation with enhanced frequency resolution. (1998)
Köppl, C.; Klump, G. M.; Taschenberger, G.; Dyson, M. and Manley, G. A.
In: Palmer, A. R.; Rees, A.; Summerfield, A. Q. and Meddis, R. eds. Psychophysical and Physiological Advances in Hearing (pp. 153-159)
ISBN : 1861560699 | Publisher : Whurr | Published : London

Frequency selectivity in the barn owl (Tyto alba) measured with a masking paradigm using narrow band noise. (1997-01)
Klump, G. M. and Dyson, M. L.
In : 25th Gottingen Neurobiology Conference: From Membrane to Mind (1997, Gottingen, Germany)