Research

I study the causes and consequences of consistent behavioural phenotypic variation (also known as animal personalities) and collective behaviour in animal groups. In particular, I investigate the ecological factors underlying behavioural phenotypic variation, how this drives social interactions and collective behaviour and determines group functioning, and how in turn the social context shapes individual behaviour . My research combines observational work in the wild with experimental studies in the lab, using controlled testing facilities and automated tracking software I have developed.

Stickleback-closeup

My doctorate research on three-spined sticklebacks, awarded with a BBSRC scholarship,  showed that personality variation is a key driver of collective behaviour and group functioning but is also strongly affected and determined by it. My current research interest continues along these lines and focuses on understanding the role of consistent behavioural phenotypes in group functioning and how that may in turn drive individual fitness. I conduct both detailed laboratory experiments, semi-wild mesocosm studies, and field surveys of three-spined sticklebacks. our understanding of the boldness and sociability personality traits and their role on leadership and group movements. I work with a variety of species to answer these questions, including group-living fish, birds and mammals, both in the wild and in the lab. Beyond my main research, I work with a variety of other species, including birds and mammals, and collaborate with researchers at universities across Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

 

Summary

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Ongoing projects:

Unified modelling framework for understanding individual differences in collective behaviour
— with Jacob Davidson and Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, GER

Role of personality variation in collective behaviour and group functioning of schooling fish
— with Andrea Manica, University of Cambridge, UK
— with Neeltje Boogert, University of Exeter, UK
— with Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, GER

Mechanistic understanding of individual heterogeneity in collective behaviour
— with Shaun Killen, Glasgow University, UK; Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, GER

Individual differences and survival during predator-prey dynamics
— with Matt Grobis, University of Princeton, USA; Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, GER

Role of Schistocephalus infection on individual and collective movement dynamics and survival
— with Jasminca Behrmann-Godel and Geoffrey Mazue

Clonal molley project
— with Kate Laskowski, David Bierbach, and XX, IGB Berlin, GER

Individual variation, behavioural plasticity, and cognitive style (including visual field reconstruction and individual learning)
— with Neeltje Boogert, University of Exeter, UK; Jacob Davidson, Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, GER

Other projects:

School of lights

Quorum-decision-making in corvid roosts
— with Alex Thornton, University of Exeter, UK

Robofish project
— with David Bierbach, IGB Berlin, GER

Group metabolism and collective behaviour
— with Shaun Killen and Lucy Cotgrove, Glasgow University, UK