My primary interests lie in examining the consequences of social behaviour to gain new insights into the factors that shape social bonds and the structure of societies. I utilise a population of wild birds within Wytham Woods, Oxford, which offers the potential to investigate sociality in a uniquely intricate way due to two overlapping aspects:
Firstly, the population has been intensively studied over a long period. It now comprises of millions of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking records detailing the movements of thousands of interacting individuals over ten years. Due to the population’s long-term pedigree monitoring, some of these individuals belong to a family tree that can be traced back more than 50 generations. Therefore, I can use this extensive dataset to quantify how social networks are shaped by biological processes (such as environmental factors or individuals’ traits), as well as how sociality can carry over to influence various aspects of ecology.
Secondly, this system also offers a rare opportunity to experimentally manipulate social structure and directly test the consequences of social bonds. Using a range of different experiments, I examine how social connections carry-over into other contexts, the importance of social relationships for shaping individual behaviour, and the causal relationship between social networks and various other processes (such as the flow of information, the development of learning strategies, and social resilience).
I also hold general interests in foraging and mating decisions, quantitative genetics, and human behaviour.