Visible (left) and UV (right)
I am a research assistant working alongside Martin Stevens, Claire Spottiswoode and Jolyon Troscianko. My work involves the collection and analysis of data for investigations into avian egg camouflage and predator vision. This research focuses on nightjar and plover species found in Zambia and South Africa. The aim is to address fundamental questions about how camouflage influences survival in natural environments. These include:
- How the type and level of camouflage affects survival against predators?
- Whether or not different camouflage strategies evolve against different backgrounds?
- How habitat specialisation influence camouflage, egg variation and laying strategy?
These questions will be addressed primarily through the analysis of adult, chick and egg images taken in the field. The images are used to model the relevant predator visual systems, followed by various techniques to analyse the different types of camouflage.
In addition to the already mentioned research we are conducting citizen science projects to investigate the evolution of camouflage on different habitats. These involve online games where participants search a scene for eggs or adult nightjars. The games can be found on our project nightjar website.
For my undergraduate research project I investigated theories behind the evolution of deception. Deceptive signalling has seen much theoretical attention, and yet our understanding of its mechanisms in communication systems is limited. This is partly because it is not always practical to study deceptive signals in the wild. I designed a versatile method, using human foragers, to generate data on the key predictions of deceptive signalling.
I graduated from Exeter in 2012 with a BSc in Zoology. My interests are broad spanning across the subjects of behavioural ecology, sexual selection and conservation. I also have a particular passion for herpetology and would one day like to integrate this with future research.