Prof Kevin Laland
Kevin Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, where he is a member of the Centre for Social learning and Cognitive Evolution, the Centre for Genes and Genomics, the Institute for Behavioural and Neural Sciences, and the Scottish Primate Research Group. After completing his PhD at University College London, Laland held a Human Frontier Science Programme fellowship at UC Berkeley, followed by BBSRC and Royal Society University Research fellowships at the University of Cambridge, before moving to St Andrews in 2002. He has published over 200 scientific articles and 10 books on a wide range of topics related to animal behaviour and evolution, particularly social learning, cultural evolution and niche construction. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Society of Biology, and the recipient of both an ERC Advanced Grant and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.
I'm interested in the evolution of learning abilities and how it may be shaped by a social context. I study it using theoretical methods, mainly evolutionary agent-based simulations.
Dr Sarah Benson-Amram
My research interests include topics such as innovative problem-solving, social learning, numerical cognition and the evolution of complex cognitive abilities in animals. I am currently studying the role of social learning in the diffusion of novel behaviors in captive groups of starlings in order to develop methods to detect social learning and predict the spread of innovations in wild populations.
Dr Neeltje Boogert
My main research interests are in avian cognition, song and mate choice.
I study which individual and social variables might predict the spread of information in starling groups, the existence of a general cognitive factor ('g') in birds, the mechanisms underlying cognitive performance, and the potential for sexual selection of cognitive traits.
Dr Catharine Cross
I’m interested in sex differences in human social behaviour and am currently looking at sex differences in social learning biases
Dr Glenna Evans
At present I am working on Bayesian estimation of social networks using diffusion data.
This work involves writing an R package which will facilitate diffusion analysis in a Bayesian context. This will also allow for model discrimination.
My other interests include Bayesian spatial point process modelling. I have worked with Gibbs point processes to estimate both symmetric and asymmetric species interactions.
Dr Stuart Murray
I am working on studying models of social learning through the Second Social Learning Strategies Tournament, as part of the ERC funded EVOCULTURE project.
Dr Ana Navarrete
I specialize in comparative analyses to identify evolutionary patterns on brain evolution. My actual research project focuses on the evolution of brain size and innovation in primates. To study this issue, I will compile a reliable primate brain dataset and analyze the data using causal statistics to find the most likely cause promoting primate encephalization.
Dr Theoni Photopoulou
I am currently working on developing software for studying social learning in wild animal populations. My other research interests are the diving behaviour, movement and foraging ecology of seals, and the way we analyse information obtained using animal-attached telemetry instruments. I have a particular interest in the polar regions and the relationship between the environment and animal behaviour in these areas."
Dr Mike Webster
I am currently working on a ERC project studying the effects of predation risk on the propensity to use social information.
I am studying social learning in threespine sticklebacks, in particular identifying the mechanism behind the social enhancement of food preferences.
I am interested in social learning in Budgerigars and am part of the ERC Evolution of Culture project.
I am investigating the relationship between the fidelity of social learning and measures of brain size, behavioural plasticity and socio-ecology across primate species.
I am investigating the factors that affect the use of social information and different social learning strategies in humans and other primates.
I am using comparative statistical techniques to investigate relationships between measures of anatomy, socio-ecology, brain size and intelligence across primate species. In particular, I am examining the relationships between sexual swellings and mating behaviour, and between measures of culture and brain size, using appropriate controls for phylogenetic non-independence.
I am interested in teaching behaviour in Callitrichid monkeys, as well as more general social learning mechanisms in zebra finches and starlings.
Recent lab members
Dr Christopher Templeton
My main research interests are in avian learning, behaviour, and ecology. In particular I study how birds use their vocal signals to communicate and how social factors influence vocal learning and the spread of information across individuals.
Dr Will Hoppitt
I am working on a ERC project to investigate methods for identifying social learning in wild animal populations.
I am working on niche construction and ecosystem function in intertidal soft sediments. I am investigating whether the ecosystem engineering activities of soft sediment macrobenthos species influence the population dynamics of microphytobenthos (MPB) assemblages and ultimately, whether these in turn effect the engineering species’ populations.
Dr Hannah Lewis
I am interested in mathematical modelling and computer simulations of biological phenomena, with particular emphasis on evolutionary processes. My research includes modelling the evolution of culture, the evolution of suboptimal sex allocation and food web assembly and evolution.
I will be investigating and isolating the cues necessary to acquire public information in nine-spine sticklebacks using animated (3D) stimuli.
Dr Laurel Fogarty
My research interests are in studying the evolution of social learning and social learning strategies. I will be using computer simulations to investigate social learning strategies and will also be working with wild and captive animal populations doing empirical studies of social learning and problem solving.
Dr Luke Rendell
I am working on theoretical and experimental studies of the evolution of social learning strategies as part of the ERC project EVOCULTURE. I also have an ongoing interest in whale behaviour and ecology.
Dr Adrian de Froment
My research investigates information transfer and the emergence of leadership in schools of threespine sticklebacks, and developing computer vision methods to analyze the interactions of individually-marked fish in real time.
Dr Lewis Dean
My research is on experimental studies of cumulative social learning across species.
Dr Anne Kandler
I am interested in modelling different kinds of diffusion phenomena in time and space, particularly I analyse the competition and spread dynamics of cultural traits in heterogeneous environments. Further, I am working on explaining language competition.
I study mathematical models of social learning.
Dr Laura Fortunato
My research investigates the evolution of human social organization, focusing on the social norms regulating kinship and marriage: for example, it tries to understand why some societies prescribe monogamy while the majority allow polygynous marriage. I combine theoretical and statistical methods used in the study of non-human social systems with theory and data from the social and historical sciences, including anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology.
Elodie visited the Laland lab for 5 months from France. She worked on social learning and spread of learned innovations in budgerigars.
Dr Pontus Strimling
I am interested in formal models that give us a better understanding of why specific cultural traits spread and when we would expect social learning mechanisms to evolve. Among other things, I am currently working on the evolution of teaching behavior and on how social norms change.
Dr Tom Pike
I have broad research interests within behavioural ecology. I am currently working on a BBSRC-funded project where we are using a variety of experimental and theoretical approaches to explore social learning strategies.
Dr Jeremy Kendal
My research interests include studying conditions that favour the evolution of social learning, the diffusion dynamics of social traditions through populations, and the association between the evolutionary dynamics of genes and culture.
Dr Rachel Kendal
(Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow)
My research focuses on social learning and innovation, including the potential application of findings in these areas to animal welfare and conservation.