Dr Emmanuelle Briolat
Post-doctoral Research Associate
Stella Turk Building G3.06
University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE
I have broad interests in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology, but am especially fascinated by animal communication and visual signalling.
Before beginning my PhD, I worked as a research assistant, studying first camouflage in cuttlefish, then parental behaviour in burying beetles. As part of my BBSRC funding, I also completed a short rotation project in the Psychology Department at the University of Exeter, focusing on edge perception and flight behaviour in bumblebees. Since then, the central theme of my research has been coloration and visual communiation in Lepidoptera. My PhD investigated the form and function of warning signals in day-flying burnet moths (Lepiodptera: Zygaenidae), focusing in particular on the question of quantitative signal honesty in these species. As a research assistant working with Dr Jolyon Troscianko, I worked on the effects of artificial lighting on the visual ecology of hawkmoths, and the role of high-contrast markings in butterflies in deflecting predator attacks. In my current role as a post-doctoral reserch associate in the Sensory Ecology and Evolution group, my research focuses on disentangling the relative benefits of generalist and specialist background-matching camouflage strategies for prey in complex natural enviornments.
Aside from academic research, I regularly write popular science articles for the MRC’s Biological Picture of the Day website, and have published a children's book on the visual defences of moths and butterflies.
Broad research specialisms:
- Behavioural Ecology
- Sensory Ecology
2018: PhD (University of Exeter)
2016: MA (University of Cambridge)
2012 : BA Hons (1st class) in Natural Sciences – Zoology (Girton College, University of Cambridge)
Project Title: Insect warning signals and predator vision
Funding Body: BBSRC SWDTP
This project examined the form and functon of warning colouration in Lepidoptera, with a particular emphasis on day-flying burnet moths (Zygaenidae). My research combined photography & image analysis, toxin quantification and predation experiments in the field, to investigate signal honesty in the six-spot burnet Zygaena filipendulae and related species.
Project Title: Hawkmoth visual ecology under artificial lights
Artificial lighting is a growing threat for natural systems, with the potential to interfere with the visually-guided behaviours of many species. Here we focus on a species with impressive and well-studied nocturnal visual capabilities, the elephant hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor, and use low light visual modelling to investigate the impact of different types and intensities of artificial lighting on key aspects of its visual ecology: flower detection for pollination, intra-specific signalling, and detection by potential predators.
Project Title: How to optimise imperfect camouflage
Principal Investigator: Martin Stevens
Collaborators: Anna Hughes, Lina Arenas
Funding Body: BBSRC
This project investigates the effectiveness of generalist and specialist background-matching strategies for prey occuring on multiple distinct backgrounds, and complex natural habitats. To test how quickly specialist and generalist targets are detected, we are using a series of online and field-based search tasks wih human volunteers. Play our latest game here.