Understanding the importance of individual heterogeneity in group-living animals
Director of Studies: Dr Alexander Wilson
Second Supervisor: Professor Mark Briffa
Third Supervisor: Dr Benjamin Ciotti
Groups of animals, whether that be flocks of birds, schools of fish, or swarms of insects, provide some of the most visually dramatic spectacles in the natural world. However, it is only recently that we have learned that such phenomena arise from the emergent properties of actions and interactions between individuals in those groups. Many questions remain as to how animals, with fundamentally different attributes and requirements, balance their needs with those of their group. Bringing together tools and concepts from animal personality, physiology, social network analysis, and collective behaviour, this studentship will explore the role of differences in ‘state’ and experience in shaping individual – and group-level dynamics. The project will use the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) as a model organism, working both with a laboratory population at the University of Plymouth, and wild populations in Trinidad. The successful student will have the opportunity to contribute to the design of experiments and development of the broader research program and will be provided with unique opportunities for collaboration, training, and research both domestically (UK) and internationally.