Postgraduate Research Student
Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier Building, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK
My broad research interests are in how furthering our understanding of animal ecology and behaviour can lead to developments of more successful species-specific conservation strategies. In particular for aquatic and semi-aquatic vertebrates, in response to the current anthropogenic threats to our marine and freshwater ecosystems.
During my time as an undergraduate at the University of Exeter, I volunteered for two seasons at the Marine Turtle Conservation Project, North Cyprus. Here I gained experience of first hand conservation work, which both developed my practical field research skills and furthered my passion for conservation. During my second season I collected data for my honours project, supervised by Prof Annette Broderick, which investigated how intrinsic factors affect green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting behaviours.
Broad research specialisms
- Conservation biology
- Aquatic vertebrate biology and ecology
- Marine and freshwater conservation
- Animal behaviour
2017 - BSc Zoology (Hons), University of Exeter
Project Title: Social Learning and Anti-Predator Behaviour in Otters (subfamily Lutrinae).
Supervisors: Dr Neeltje Boogert (University of Exeter), Dr Alex Thornton (University of Exeter) and Dr William Hoppitt (University of Leeds).
Understanding how captive born animals learn and respond to natural stimuli is essential for the success of species reintroduction programmes. This project will investigate how captive Asian short clawed otter (A. cinereus) and smooth coated otter (L. perspicillata) groups respond to novel predator stimuli that they have never experienced before in a captive environment. In order to examine; whether they can correctly identify and respond appropriately to predation threats, as well as if they can socially learn to recognise a stimulus as a threat if they do not initially see it as one. This will reveal whether there is a need to train captive individuals to react defensively towards wild predators before being reintroduced.
Furthermore, this study aims to provide insight into the social relationships within these otter groups, as well investigate how this relates to their problem-solving ability in a social learning context. In addition to this, this study will also explore whether intrinsic factors, such as age and sex, affect; social relationships, problem-solving, and anti-predator behaviours, in order to develop a more rounded understanding of what drives otter behaviour.