My research explores the interface between behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, quantitative genetics and theoretical biology, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of social behaviour. I specialise in collating and analysing long-term datasets, using recent advances in molecular, theoretical and statistical techniques, to investigate how behaviour evolves and what maintains the diversity of behavioural strategies in natural systems.
I graduated in Zoology (University of Cambridge) in 1999; my undergraduate theses demonstrated that experienced female Loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta have greater reproductive success per clutch than neophytes, and that foraging of the inter-tidal beetle Bledius spectabilis is affected by algae abundance. I then participated in the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey Expedition and completed the MSc Biology (University of Oxford; funded by the BBSRC), during which time I established offspring sex-ratio variation in the European badger Meles meles and built a molecular phylogeny of the Strepsirrhines. After a year of travel, with 3 months of research on Aride Island Nature Reserve, Seychelles, I returned to WildCRU in 2002 as a research assistant on the Wytham Badger Project.
I commenced my DPhil on the evolution of social behaviour in the European badger in 2002 with WildCRU (University of Oxford). My DPhil focused on how mating systems influence the evolution of delayed dispersal and how relatedness and reproductive skew vary within social groups. On a finer scale, I examined individual variation in breeding success, investigating bias in fitness measures and specifically looking into reproductive restraint, senescence, cooperative breeding, dominance hierarchies, inbreeding and mate choice.
I then joined the Seychelles warbler project as a NERC Post-doctoral Research Associate (University of Sheffield), applying my pedigree constructions skills to quantify the fitness consequences of helping behaviour. Most recently I gained Bayesian analytical skills to quantify trait heritability, facilitated through a Rubicon fellowship and a Lucie Burgers fellowship (University of Groningen, Netherlands). I am currently co-supervising two DPhil students (life-history trade-offs and MHC-dependent mate choice, WildCRU) and one Masters student (fitness consequences of personality, Groningen).