MASTER'S THESIS PROJECT

Begging and food sharing behaviours in Asian-small clawed otters 

MSc Evolutionary & Behavioural Ecology | University of Exeter

Begging is a common behaviour across taxa, of which has received much attention in a parent-offspring context. Both theoretical models and empirical evidence support various explanations for how this behaviour evolved and specifically in young birds, many support the honest signal of sibling scramble theory. However, begging can be a form of harassment in other food sharing contexts.

 

Food sharing is widespread in the animal kingdom and commonly observed  between kin. However, it is also common amongst non-kin and there are various suggestions for alternative explanations that do not rely on inclusive fitness benefits. 

Irrespective of its function, begging and the resultant food sharing can vary considerably between age, species and context. And, factors such as food availability and type may influence this variation in nature.

 

My thesis explored the variation in begging and food sharing frequencies in a group-living captive species of otter, by experimentally manipulating the food abundance and type. 

 

A collaborative project with Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre, Newquay Zoo and ZSL London Zoo.

PAST PROJECTS

Acoustic and behavioural development of alliance behaviours in Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins

Research Assistant | Dr. Stephanie King's PhD Student Kathryn Holmes

KING LAB website: https://slkinggroup.weebly.com/people.html 

Kathryn's PhD investigates the ontogeny of alliance behaviours in juvenile male bottlenose dolphins, with special focus on vocal and physical behaviours that formulate and mediate social bonds between individuals.

 

Here, I spent three months mostly collecting offshore data using an array of research methodologies. These included, detailed systematic behavioural observation (focal follows), photo-id and prepartation, deployment and use of PAM equipment.

My position also involved data entry, management, processing and analysis. This included survey input into the project database, processing unknown individuals, inputting focal follow data to Excel and analysing acoustic data on Adobe Audition.

Marine Mammal Monitoring with Tethys Research Institute

Research Assistant | Ionian Dolphin Project

https://www.ioniandolphinproject.org/

The Ionian Dolphin Project is a marine mammal research and conservation non-profit in the Eastern Ionian Sea, with two main study sites: Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago and Gulf of Ambracia.

As a RA, my main duties included offshore data collection; boat surveys and photo-id, to contribute to the long-term monitoring of population trends and habitat-use of Bottlenose and Common Dolphins.

This role also incldued data entry, processing and analysis; fin-id using DARWIN.

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