Dr Faye Thompson
Associate Research Fellow
Stella Turk Building G3.06
University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE
In nature, conflict and cooperation arise at every level of biological complexity, among teams of genes, cells and individuals. Using experiments and theoretical modelling, I seek to explain the evolution of these patterns, focusing on the conflicts inherent in the formation and dynamics of cooperative animal societies. I test how conflict arises and is resolved in social groups, and the impact of aggressive intergroup interactions on cooperative behaviour and life history. My overall aim is to establish the general rules that shape aggression and social behaviour in animal societies, and to advance our understanding of evolutionary transitions to cooperation.
2017 PhD Biological Sciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus
2011 MSc Conservation and Biodiversity, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus
2007 BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science, City University London
2018 Associate Research Fellow, University of Exeter: The ecology and evolution of intergroup conflict in animal societies: theory and tests
2017 Associate Research Fellow, University of Exeter: Transgenerational costs of reproduction and the evolution of life histories
2016 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Exeter: Early life influences on the development of cooperation in wild mammals
Research group links
My research investigates how conflict arises and is resolved in cooperative species using a combination of field and lab-based studies, and theoretical modelling. My interests include:
- The causes and consequences of intergroup conflict in animal societies.
- The evolution and maintenance of cooperative behaviour.
- Aggression and affiliation in animal groups.
The ecology and evolution of intergroup conflict in banded mongooses
I am a postdoc on the Banded Mongoose Research Project in the Socialis Research Group, led by Professor Michael Cant. Banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) are a cooperatively breeding species that lives in groups of around 20 adults, plus offspring. They exhibit intense forms of cooperation but also conspicuous and highly aggressive conflict. Neighbouring groups compete over food, territory and mates, and frequently engage in lethal fights. I am investigating the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of intergroup conflict using a wild population of banded mongooses in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda that has been studied continuously since 1995. In this project I aim to explain:
- Why groups engage in costly fights with one another
- How intergroup conflict affects individual fitness and cooperative behaviour
- How interactions between groups affect the behaviour and spatial organization of groups, and the dynamics of the wider population.
Intergroup conflict and cooperation in termites
I have recently started a termite laboratory to study the effect of intergroup conflict and cooperation on social evolution. The dampwood termite, Zootermopsis angusticollis, provides a model system to test experimentally the evolutionary drivers of intergroup conflict and cooperation because colonies exhibit a full spectrum of intergroup relations, from lethal combat to peaceful fusion. Current work with undergraduate and masters students investigates the effect of intergroup conflict on social cohesion, and mechanisms of colony recognition and caste discrimination.
Michael Cant, University of Exeter
Rufus Johnstone, University of Cambridge
Jeremy Field, University of Exeter
Darren Croft, University of Exeter
Daniel Franks, University of York
Andrew Young, University of Exeter
Harry Marshall, University of Roehampton
Emma Vitikainen, University of Helsinki
Hazel Nichols, Swansea University
Beth Preston, University of Exeter
Rebeca Rosengaus, Northeastern University
Erin Cole, Northeastern University
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Publications by year
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