I graduated from University College London in 2009 with a BSc in Zoology. During my undergraduate degree, I began to specialise in evolutionary biology and ecology. This led me to complete an MRes in Biosystematics at Imperial College and the Natural History Museum in 2010. This course focused on gaining a wide range of research skills and theoretical understanding important for studying evolutionary patterns and processes. I completed three research projects, spanning phylogenetics, experimental evolution, and comparative 3-D morphometrics. I began my DPhil in October 2011, and plan to finish in the spring of 2015.
Understanding why many organisms aggregate in groups is one of the key problems in evolutionary biology. While sociality brings with it many potential benefits, it also gives rise to the risk of being exploited by others. Individuals must acquire resources such as food, safety, and mates in order to successfully survive and reproduce, and the collection of information about these resources may allow better decisions to be made. When living in a social group, therefore, individuals are faced with the choice of either sampling their environment directly, or exploiting the discoveries of others – that is, using social information.
My DPhil focusses on individual variation in social information use in animal groups, and its evolutionary and demographic consequences. I am interested in why some social species have evolved systems of social dominance while others have not, and the role that individual information use may have played in these patterns. Specifically, my research aims to highlight the potential constraints that different environmental conditions might impose on individual information use by promoting the evolution of social dominance through resource monopolisation. Through the course of my DPhil I have been exploring these ideas through a mixture of natural observations, experiments, and mathematical modelling. All of my empirical data are collected in the field, studying the behaviour of a wild population of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) as part of ZSL’s Tsaobis Baboon Project.
- Dr. Guy Cowlishaw (Institute of Zoology)
- Prof. Tim Coulson (University of Oxford)
- Dr. Marcus Rowcliffe (Institute of Zoology)
- Castles, M, Heinsohn, R, Marshall, HH, Lee, AEG, Cowlishaw, G, Carter, AJ. Are social networks created with different techniques comparable? In review. Animal Behaviour.
- Perron, GG, Lee, AEG, Wang, Y, Huang, WE, & Barraclough, TG (2011) Bacterial recombination promotes the evolution of multi-drug-resistance in functionally diverse populations. Proc. R. Soc. B, 279(1733), pp. 1477-1484.