Our research focuses on predator and collective behaviour, and how this is shaped by the environment
Predator behaviour was the focus of Christos’s PhD and remains a big part of the group’s interests. Aspects of predator behaviour that we’re interested in are those that affect social behaviour in prey, and also other traits like how cryptic prey are.
The experimental approaches taken at Leeds with real prey like Daphnia and bloodworms were advanced massively when virtual prey in Princeton were developed (see video). Now we use a combination of both approaches, and we’re developing a robotic prey system to take things even further!
With communication in many fishes based mainly on visual cues and motion, they provide an excellent study system to test simulations of decision making of mobile animal groups as movement can be tracked in detail. We can train fish in the lab to vary their tendencies to particular targets, we can control and manipulate group composition, and we can track individual fish to dissect how the outcomes of the decision (a functional perspective) are linked to the underlying mechanism.
Most recently we’ve started working on animal behaviour projects with an applied aspect. This includes how environmental change (temperature, turbidity, noise, invasive species (like the Nile tilapia pictured above)) is affecting behavioural interactions, and also the behavioural adaptations animals can employ to mitigate, or even take advantage of, such change.