Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: University of York
Dates: Oct 2007-May 2013
Summary: Over the last few years, I have been working on animal personality: Confronted with the same environmental or social stressors, individuals differ markedly in their behaviour. For example, some individuals are always bolder or more curious than others. We refer to these differences as "personality" traits. Recently we demonstrated that neophobic birds – those that are afraid of new things – suffer more oxidative stress than bolder birds. Therefore they are predicted to age fast and die young. On the other hand, neophobic birds might be less likely to be eaten by a predator than a bolder bird that takes more risks. It is this trade-off in the real world between the behaviour and physiology associated with personality that we wish to tease out.
Since moving to the Environment Department at the University of York, my research is now more focussed on the impacts of social and environmental factors on behaviour, stress physiology, reproductive success, and susceptibility to oxidative damage. Current projects are investigating the effects of pollution and pharmaceuticals in the environment on wildlife. In addition, I work on how environmental factors, such as temperature, interact with woodland management practices to affect biodiversity. For example, we have investigated how the annual variation in early nutrition, driven by climate-induced changes in prey abundance, impacts the growth and development of birds. Studies such as ours, which investigate individual level plasticity, are important to assessing the capacity of populations not only to survive short term environmental change but also to evolve in response to long term environmental change.
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Dates: Oct 2002-Sep 2007
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.