I am a behavioural ecologist interested in understanding how animals respond to environmental changes.
My research is multi-disciplinary and encompasses approaches from behavioural ecology, social cognition, and conservation.
My main research focuses on understanding:
- the effects of the physical and social environments on behavioural responses and cognitive abilities in animals;
- why individuals differ in their abilities to adapt to environmental changes;
- the long-term consequences of these changes on individuals’ fitness.
To answer these questions, I investigate different research topics:
- Animal personality: the behavioural responses that consistently differ between individuals over time and across contexts, like exploration and aggression.
- Habitat selection: the choice an individual make for a particular habitat in preference to others, at many different levels (e.g., breeding area, territory, nest).
- Inhibitory control: the cognitive ability to inhibit an « instinctive » response. For example, not hitting your computer when it is slow, so that you don’t break it.
- Caching: the behaviour involving storing food for future times, as found in squirrels, chickadees, or corvids.
As side projects, I have also been working on the following topics:
- Abstract concept-learning: the cognitive ability to learn a new abstract concept, such as same/different or more/less.
- Mirror self-recognition: the cognitive ability to recognise self when looking in a mirror.
- Methods in comparative cognition: in collaboration with Benjamin Farrar (University of Cambridge).
I am currently based in the COBE lab at Universiteit Gent as a postdoctoral researcher, with Professor Frederick Verbruggen and Professor Luc Lens. I am currently working on the effects of early-life environmental factors such as group size/dynamics and food availability/predictability on inhibitory control and personality in birds, and how these might affect habitat choice and fitness on a longer term.