Research

My group are interested in how animals respond to their environments, particularly in the context of anti-predator aggregation and environmental change. We are interested in how animals interact with one another in their foraging, mating and social decisions, and how the environment affects these behaviours. Projects include the behavioural responses of small fish to increasing environmental turbidity, the effect of resource density on attack rates by foraging insects, and understanding how predators target prey, using principles taken from human psychology. I am also interested in how students learn, and evaluating the effectiveness of learning and teaching strategies.

Please also have a look at my university page

Current research projects

Predator-prey interactions and the evolution of animal aggregation

This theme explores why animals live in groups (flocks, shoals and herds) particularly as a response to predation risk. Living in a group reduces an individuals chance of being eaten by a predator through a range of different mechanisms, which we explore using small shoaling fish such as guppies and sticklebacks, and theoretical (computer) models.

moofushi_kandu_fish

Credit: Bruno de Giusti/CC-BY-SA-2.5 Italy

Projects under this theme include:

– Confusion and oddity effects
– Mechanisms for aggregation in animals: the selfish herd
– Forager responses to patch size, density and purity

See more on this theme

 

 

The influence of experience and environmental change on behaviour

The second theme explores how animals respond to the environment in which they live. This includes the physical environment, such as the distribution of resources, water flow or turbidity, and the social environment: the behaviour of other individuals around them. Under this theme, we are particularly interested in how experience of a particular environment shapes behavioural responses, and the effects of environmental change on behaviour.

gasterosteusaculeatus

Credit: Piet Spaans/CC-BY-SA-3.0

Projects under this theme include:

– The impact of environmental turbidity on anti-predator, social and foraging behaviour
– The effects of early and recent experience on the development of behaviour

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The evolution of parental care 

Parental care increases the survival of offspring, yet comes at a cost. There are astonishing differences between species in whether, and for how long, to care for offspring, ranging from marine fishes which abandon fertilised eggs to be eaten by predators, to species such as humans that provide protection and resources for extended periods. We are interested in understanding how this diversity evolved, and how it links to other behaviours.

Projects under this theme include:
– The evolution of parental care in fish and frogs
– The evolution of parents feeding offspring
– Laterality and parental care

See more on this theme

 

Bioscience pedagogy

img_0140I am also interested in how students learn, and evaluating the effectiveness of learning and teaching strategies, linked to my own teaching. I am interested in the effectiveness and value of feedback, particularly in iterated assessment tasks, and the use of students’ own smartphones as ‘clickers’, which are one way to enhance the interactivity of lectures (by asking multiple choice questions). I also am involved in projects to understand the development of student autonomy through their degree programme, and the value of, and barriers to participation in fieldwork. I am a member of the STEM Education Research Group at the University of Hull.

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