My research group currently pursue two main themes. The first of these concerns the behaviour and vocalisations of social animals. Using a combination of observational data, sound recordings and a variety of experimental manipulations, we work on several different study systems, including wild populations of green woodhoopoes, pied babblers and white-browed sparrow-weavers (in southern Africa), scrubwrens and fairy wrens (in Australia) and European robins (just outside Bristol), and a captive population of domestic chickens. Specific current research interests include:
Sentinel behaviour and vigilance patterns
Alarm-call use and development
Decision-making and information use
The function of foraging vocalisations
Links between intergroup conflict and intragroup behaviour
Behavioural, hormonal and immunological correlates of song
The second major topic concerns the impact of anthropogenic noise on behaviour, physiology and development. Using a combination of laboratory and field based experiments on a variety of fish and invertebrate species, alongside acoustic soundscape mapping, we are considering the scale of impact of this increasing and global issue.
For further details, see our research site.
I did my first degree at the University of Cambridge (Girton College, Zoology BA Hons, 1996). After a year spent working on different zoological projects around the world, I then completed a Masters at the University of Oxford (New College, Biology: Integrative Bioscience MSc, 1998). During the research phase of this, I investigated parental care and facultative sex-ratio manipulation in great tits (Parus major). I then returned to the Department of Zoology (and Girton College) in Cambridge to conduct my PhD under the supervision of Professor Nick Davies. My research focused on foraging competition and vocal communication in group-living green woodhoopoes (Phoeniculus purpureus), a South African bird species. I obtained my PhD in 2003, when my thesis was examined by Professors Tim Clutton-Brock and Ben Hatchwell. By that stage, I was a Junior Research Fellow at Girton College, a position I occupied until 2005. During this period I began work on vocal communication and development in another group-living bird species, the pied babbler (Turdoides bicolor), which can be habituated to the close presence of observers. In 2005 I was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellowship, which I moved to Bristol in 2006 to take up a proleptic lectureship in the School of Biological Sciences.
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
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