Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 341 3550 331
office number: B 1.15
I’m a behavioural ecologist with a specific interest in the evolutionary ecology of social behaviour. I study how socio-ecological factors shape individuals' decisions, and the consequences of social associations on group-level outcomes, i.e. society structure and social processes.
For my DPhil, I studied how mixed-species groups are formed and maintained, and linked individual behaviour to community processes. Specifically, I used mixed-species flocks of individually-marked (PIT-tagged) songbirds (tits, Paridae) in Wytham Woods near Oxford as a model system, and combined observational and experimental approaches to study transmission of social information and collective behaviour in heterogeneous groups. I developed a framework that is based on concepts of optimality to link processes of group formation to signalling theory and information use, and compared observed pattern of individuals’ social decisions to simulated processes for hypothesis testing. I also studied consistency in individuals’ social phenotypes, and how and why individuals differ in their social behaviours and network positions. Participation in mixed-species flocks is a complex balance of competition cost and grouping benefits, mediated by both individual phenotype and environmental conditions.
In July 2020 I joined the department as a postdoctoral researcher to study Inuit subsistence ecology. I am working closely with Elspeth Ready to analyse data from an Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic, and my research will focus on foraging decisions and cooperative food sharing networks, and the role of socioeconomic status, kinship, and environmental variability on subsistence decision-making and food security.