- About Me
I am particularly interested in the field of behavioural ecology, especially how animals gather and utilise information from their environment and their conspecifics.
This includes social behaviours and how the outcome of these behaviours can lead animals to alter their behaviours and strategies.
Information use pervades many aspects of behavioural ecology, from foraging to mating behaviours and an animals efficiency at utilising social and personal information can have significant effects on their life history.
I am interested in using a number of different techniques to examine these questions, including social network analysis and collective behaviour techniques.
- About my current work
I am currently a postoctoral research fellow at the University of Zurich. I am working on a long term study population of house mice. In particular, how various social effects might influence individuals communal nursing decisions when breeding. I am utilising social network analysis to try and determine apart which aspects are the most important when individuals are choosing with whom (if anyone) to communally breed and which individuals actually benefit from the communal breeding.
- About my previous work
I was formerly a Postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Ottawa. My main area of study was in the social behaviour of winter flocks of black capped chickadees. Black capped chickadees are a common species throughout much of North America, and whilst they hold territories in pairs throughout much of the year, during the winter they form stable social flocks of 10-15 individuals. I was particularly interested in how the use of social information might influence the formation of these flocks and the behaviour of individuals. This involved attempting to examine which individuals might influence the groups movement, how much the group maintains cohesion and the importance of preferential associations.
My PhD project was a collaboration between myself and Fourth Element. My research investigated the diving and foraging behaviour of the European shag, one of the UK’s most efficient diving birds.
They can be seen on rocky outcrops all around the British coastline or swiftly disappearing under the water. They are remarkable underwater hunters, pursuing and catching their prey in challenging conditions.
We explored the use of social information by groups of diving animals by studying the behaviour of European shags diving in “foraging rafts” in the Isles of Scilly. This involved the use of a wide variety of methods including GPS tracking, observational studies, collective behaviour analysis and dynamic state mathematical models.
The project was partnered with Fourth Element, a diving company with a keen interest in science and the environment. I kept a blog throughout my PhD, all the posts of which have been moved to this site. They can also still be found in their original location at https://theshagproject.wordpress.com/