I was invited to give a talk today as part of the yearly workshop of the White Sea Stickleback Research Group. Virtual because of covid of course, so unfortunately no trip to the White Sea yet. But some great questions, nice to see the research being conducted by Dmitry Lajus and his group, and meeting some fellow stickleback researchers. They also have a very active instagram account: three little spines.
Today I gave a seminar at CEAB, a CSIC research institute in Blanes, Spain focused on understanding aquatic ecosystems. Excited about the potential to collaborate on experimental and observational work on freshwater and marine fish populations in the region.
Today I gave a talk at the 2020 ASAB Summer meeting about my recent work about the effects of Schistocephalus parasite infection on individual and social behaviour (paper here). It was my first talk at a virtual meeting, which took a bit more time to prepare, but despite being completely virtual due to the covid-19 pandemic, the conference turned out really well. Many people “attended” my talk, which was followed by a live Q&A with the other speakers in my session. All other conferences I was planning to attend this year (at least 4) have been cancelled this year, so it was great to that this conference was made possible in the virtual realm at least!
The past years I have been bridging the fields of behavioural ecology with mechanistic perspectives of collective behaviour research. I have recently started to use these concepts to set up some projects to understand how fish populations deal with environmental change, including field work in the Spanish Pyrenees focused specifically on the role of individual heterogeneity in the context of severe effects of floods and droughts.
I have just returned from York where I have presented some of my ideas at the BES conference Impacts of extreme climatic events on ecosystems. It was a great meeting, with many in-depth group discussions about the effects of climatic events on different ecosystems and it was nice to be able to present and discuss my research plans with the broad diversity of people attending. Good to be back in the UK for a couple days as well!
At the ASAB Summer Conference in Konstanz this year, which was focused on new frontiers in the Study of Animal Behaviour, I gave a half-day workshop about automating behavioural experiments with Raspberry Pi’s.
After a general introduction, I discussed its use in animal behaviour research, how to set up, work with, and remotely control a raspberry pi, how to work with the rpi camera system, and finally how to automate recording, including via my own pirecorder software.
I started working with these amazing machines during my PhD, which where then still quite difficult to set up and quite slow, but now with the newest model for almost the same low price, so much is possible!
It was great to see so many people (120) interested in this great open-source technology for their own work, and many told me soon afterwards they immideately started setting-up their own systems.
Due to the interest and enthusiasm I am planning to give more and more hands-on workshops in the near future. Stay tuned!
After chairing one of the sessions at the ASAB Summer Conference in Konstanz today it was time to give a talk myself. I presented an exciting project that explores the role of Schistocephalus parasite infection on individual movement and social interactions. Using experiments and individual-based modelling we show mechanistically this fascinating parasite strongly impairs mobility, with large cascading effects for animal groups.
The last couple days I have been in Florence for the SEB conference. What a great location to have a conference! Where else can you have pizza for breakfast?
On Tuesday I gave a talk about a mechanistic framework I am developing with Shaun Killen to understand the role of individual heterogeneity in collective behaviour. The sessions this year are all really relevant to me and saw lots of great talks and posters and nice to bump into academic friends from around the world. Too many new project ideas! But I think some nice new collaborations will come from it as well.
Today I visited Münster to give an invited departmental seminar at the Institute for Evolution & Biodiversity. It was great to see the nice stickleback labs of Jörn Scharsack and Joachim Kurz and the way in which they are able to experimentally parasitise the fish with Schistocephalus.
Really enjoyed meeting many other members of the department and the very enthusiastic students in the group. I am excited about the possibilities for future collaborations with Jörn to unravel the mechanistic underpinnings of parasite infection and its link to personality variation. Thanks again to Jörn and Nicolle for inviting me!
Today I visited the Institute for Zoology at the University of Bonn. I was invited by Gerhard von der Emde to give a departmental seminar and discuss ideas for investigating individual differences and collective behaviour in weakly electric fish.
Gerhard is an expert on electro-signalling and communicating in weakly electric fish and has been doing great work on unravelling the potential ways that these fish use their electric field. See for example their recent paper in PNAS that shows fish actively use electrocommunication in their interactions.
The last three days I attended the annual von Humboldt conference. It was great fun meeting my fellow research fellows and learning about their (extremely diverse!) work. Quite surprised to learn I was the only Dutch research fellow this year among the many nationalities. Had the chance to present my work during the poster session, which was great fun, and exciting to showcase my new tracking software live using a mobile projector. Got many new ideas these last couple days by chatting with the other researchers at such an inter-discplinary level.
This week I visited Shaun Killen in Glasgow and gave a seminar at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. Three stimulating days with lots of productive discussion and research ideas for collaboration on the relationship between physiology, personality differences and collective behaviour. Really great to meet the Killen lab and drink some proper Ales and Whiskeys. Thanks to Shaun for hosting me!
I was invited to give a guest lecture for a third year module at Bangor University. Was great discussing research ideas with Katherine Jones, visiting the University and fish labs, and walking through the Llanberis pass on my way back! ∞
I spent three days visiting Iain Couzin and his new Department of Collective Behaviour at the Max Planck Institute, Konstanz, which today culminated in a symposium on collective behaviour at which I gave a talk on personality and collective behaviour. What an amazing place and such a great day! ∞
Last Wednesday I gave the Student Lecture at the Linnean Society in London. It was a great honour for me to be invited to talk at this wonderful society, which is the oldest active biological Society in the world!
My hour-long lecture was mainly aimed at students with a general biological background. I therefore made a much broader talk about my work, which is a nice change from all the conference talks the last year.
I talked about a range of things, from how I decided to be a scientists and what fascinates me in the natural world around me to why I study sticklebacks to study these questions and how to do behavioural experiments. I then discussed the various experiments I have done to investigate the role of animal personality in collective behaviour.
It was great to see so many enthusiastic students with very bright questions at the end that hopefully got inspired by my talk to become zoologists themselves. My talk should become viewable online next week so check back soon!
Yesterday I presented my latest research on the role of personality differences in leadership and collective movement with three-spined sticklebacks at the annual Clareity Symposium, Clare College, Cambridge. ∞
Today I gave a guest lecture as part of the 3rd year Behavioural Ecology course entitled Animal personality and collective behaviour, at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. ∞
Yesterday I gave a guest lecture on animal tracking as part of the masters course “Animal Behaviour, applications for conservation“, at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge. During my one hour talk I discussed the positive and negative sides of animal tracking and showed how it plays a central role in my research on animal personality and collective behaviour. ∞
I gave a talk at the fantastic ISBE Conference in New York this year, entitled Effects of heterogeneity on collective behaviour. My presentation focused on the role of the boldness and sociability personality traits on the collective movements, coordination, and leadership in pairs and small groups of three-spined sticklebacks. A pdf of the talk can be found here (link removed). ∞