My research group (www.SHOALgroup.org) uses a question-oriented approach to address a range of issues in animal behaviour and ecology, and we have strong applied themes. An over-arching aim of our research is to understand how costs and benefits shape individual behaviour, and how these behaviours relate to the structure and functioning of groups and populations. To achieve this, we conduct research on a variety of group-living fish, bird, and mammal systems (including humans) in the wild and in the lab, and use novel technologies and analytical tools to access information about interactions at many spatio-temporal scales. Our latest work aims not only to test discipline specific hypotheses, but measure, understand, and predict how social animals deal rapid ecological change.

Areas of Expertise

  • Animal behaviour
  • Behavioural ecology
  • Collective behaviour
  • Socioecology

Publications

  1. & Sneeze to leave: African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) use variable quorum thresholds facilitated by sneezes in collective decisions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284(1862), 20170347
  2. & Exploitative Strategies: Consequences for Individual Behavior, Social Structure, and Design of Institutions. In Investors and Exploiters in Ecology and Economics: Principles and Applications. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  3. & Collective Decision Making. In The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. -5).
  4. & Social Networks. In The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. -7).
  5. & Identification of behaviours from accelerometer data in a wild social primate. Animal Biotelemetry 5(1)

See more...

Teaching

  • BIO108 Molecular and Evolutionary Biology

    ¿Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution¿ was the title of a 1973 essay by the evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky. The module links fundamental understanding of molecular processes in the cell to principles of genetics and inheritance to a broader appreciation of evolution and how it shapes the natural world around us.

  • BIO333 Animal Personality: Physiology, Behaviour, and Evolution

    Individuals within the same species or populations often behave in consistently different ways ¿ they show personality. But why? This course gives an overview about the current state of research in the field of animal personality, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. We will integrate proximate and ultimate aspects, i.e. we will look at evolutionary and developmental processes as well as proximate mechanisms. During a practical session, we will conduct basic personality experiments and will learn statistical techniques to assess animal personalities.This course will suit students who enjoy interactive teaching, e.g. discussions, group activities etc.

  • BIOM64 MRes Research Project (Biosciences)

    The student will carry out an independent piece of research in Biosciences under the guidance of academic staff in one or more of our Research Pathways: 1) Behavioural and Movement Ecology; 2) Evolutionary and Molecular Biology; 3) Marine Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture; 4) Mathematical and Statistical Ecology; 5) Population and Community Ecology 6) Whole Organism Biology; 7) Wildlife Diseases and Pest Control. The research project will be undertaken during terms 2 and 3, and the student will produce a written dissertation (thesis). The thesis will be written in a format suitable for publication in an appropriate journal.

  • BIZ300 Collective Animal Behaviour

    Animal groups frequently exhibit complex and coordinated behaviours that result from social interactions among individuals. Research in collective animal behaviour attempts to understand the causes, patterns and consequences of these behaviours. This module will showcase the latest developments in the field of collective animal behaviour, first describing the fundamental processes that lead to collective behaviour. We will then working through empirical examples - from insects, fish, birds and mammals (including humans) to elucidate the fundamental principles that underlie collective behaviour across levels of biological organization.

Supervision

  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
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  • Desk based study of sheep movement using GPS data (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
    Other supervisor: Dr Ines Fuertbauer
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MRes
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Ines Fuertbauer
  • 'Understanding baboon behavioural ecology in a human altered landscape' (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Emily Shepard
  • Implications of macroalgal plasticity for coastal ecosystem services under environmental change (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr John Griffin
  • Endocrine and behavioural plasticity in vertebrates (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Ines Fuertbauer
  • Characterisation of complex adaptive systems in biophysics (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Rowan Brown
    Other supervisor: Dr Ines Fuertbauer
  • ROBUSST: Research of behaviour underpinning social systems (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Rowan Brown
    Other supervisor: Dr Ines Fuertbauer
  • Understanding and managing commercially important marine finfish: the case of the largehead ribbonfish Trichiurus lepturus in the Arabian Sea (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Carlos Garcia De Leaniz
  • 'Rules of interaction, not votes, govern group navigational decision making in a terrestrial ungulate (Capra aegagrus hircus).' (awarded 2017)

    Student name:
    MRes
    Other supervisor: Dr Ines Fuertbauer
  • 'Soaring behaviour in A Social Scavenger: Insights from Bio-logging' (awarded 2017)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Emily Shepard

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Co-Founder/Co-Director - University of Cape Town & Swansea University PhD Programme

    2017 - Present

  • Deputy Chair, Programme Approval Board

    2017 - Present

  • MRes Biosciences Programme Director - Biosciences

    2013 - Present

  • Acting Director of PGR - College of Science

    2015 - 2016

  • PGR Chair/Coordinator - College of Science

    2014 - 2015

  • Ethics Committee (Member) - College of Science

    2014 - 2016

  • PGR Chair/Coordinator - Biosciences

    2013 - 2017

  • Academic Board for Postgraduate Research (Member)

    2013 - 2015

  • Ethics Committee (Member) - Biosciences

    2013 - 2016

  • Research Committee (Member) - College of Science

    2013 - 2016

  • PGR Degrees Admissions Tutor - Biosciences

    2012 - 2015

External Responsibilities