Testing boldness in three-spined sticklebacks today

Throughout the animal kingdom, individuals have been found to behave consistently different from one another over time or across different contexts. This is now mostly referred to as “animal personality”. As part of my PhD I want to understand what role such personality traits play in the structuring and functioning of social groups, i.e. in collective behaviour.

Today I am running an experiment to investigate the consistency of risk-taking behaviour, also known as the boldness personality trait. I work with three-spined sticklebacks that I caught in wild streams near Cambridge. The three-spined stickleback is a wonderful little fish that is not only easy to work with and keep in the lab but a model system for collective behaviour and animal personality.

Topview of the boldness tank with left the deep covered area that leads to an increasingly shallow area on the other side. You can see a fish and its trajectory in the toplane

Topview of the boldness tank with left the deep covered area that leads to an increasingly shallow area on the other side. You can see a fish and its trajectory in the toplane

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Home to work at my Cambridge lab

I am working on a short film about my research at the University of Cambridge that will showcase the fascinating aspects of animal personality as well as depict a day in the life of a behavioural scientist, from wading through wild streams catching sticklebacks to doing experiments in my underground lab in the centre of Cambridge. As inspirations for the short, I will be posting short clips here on my blog. This first one shows my daily commute from my house out in the west of Cambridge to my basement laboratory at the department of Zoology.

Blogging, a reflection

This is a snippet of my late-evening train of thought on blogging and the start of a more personal and open style of blogging I’d like to embrace.

New Blog!

I really enjoy blogging. From the moment I created my nature blog mudfooted.com back in 2009. However, over the last years I have discovered again and again it is challenging to find the right balance with self-criticism and careful considerations to actually publish my ideas. It often takes considerable time to properly research background information before publishing new posts. Furthermore, having high standards to deliver interesting/fascinating/in-depth/popular content makes it hard to actually publish those drafts waiting in my ideas folder.

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