Biological Sciences

Aubrey Manning

Professor Aubrey Manning was recognised as one of the country’s leading authorities on animal behaviour.

Portrait of Aubrey Manning

A familiar face around the Ashworth Laboratories and beyond, he presented numerous BBC television and radio programmes on natural history. He also co-authored the popular text An Introduction to Animal Behaviour - now in its fifth edition.

Education and teaching career

Professor Manning began his scientific education with a degree in Zoology at University College London, before completing a doctorate in animal behaviour at Oxford University supervised by the legendary Niko Tinbergen.

In 1956, following two years in National Service, he was offered a position as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

He rose to the rank of Professor of Natural History in 1971, a position he retained until retirement in 1997. A great teacher and communicator, he inspired many undergraduates with his enthusiasm and passion for his subject.

After his retirement, as an Emeritus Professor he was just as active and continued to be a much loved presence in the Ashworth Laboratories.

Television and radio

Manning’s skills as a raconteur made him a natural choice for television and radio and he presented BBC2’s Earth Story and Talking Landscapes.

He could also be heard on Radio 4 series such as The Sounds of Life, which attempted to recreate the first sounds heard on earth and explored natural sounds ranging from the seabed to the jungle, and The Rules of Life, which attempted to get across the way natural selection operates at all stages of an animal’s life history.

Recognition and awards

Recognition of Manning’s contribution to the public understanding of science came in 2003 with the Zoological Society of London Silver Medal, just one of many honours bestowed on him.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, held honorary degrees from Toulouse, the Open University and St. Andrews, and was awarded an OBE in 1998.

He was Chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and a Trustee of the National Museums of Scotland and Project Wallacea.