Behavioural Ecology

Evolutionary consequences of interspecific competition and character displacement

During my MSc thesis at the University of Exeter, I became interested in animal behaviour and its role in evolution. My co-supervisor (at the time PhD student James Stroud) had a perfect study system set up to enable me to investigate the evolutionary consequences of interspecific competition in terms of behaviour and micro habitat of two lizards living in recent secondary contact (Anolis sagrei and A. cristatellus).

For my data collection I headed to Miami as there are areas were two anole lizard species live in both allopatric and recent sympatric, environments enabling me to compare behaviour and micro habitat of the two lizards across sites. Observing the initial phase of secondary contact between two ecomorphs naturally is rare. However, this phase is crucial in determining the consequences of interspecific competition. In sympatry, these consequences can either enable the species to survive in equilibrium or cause local extinction in the submissive species.

Anolis sagrei (the brown anole)
Anolis cristatellus (the crested anole)

The effects of tide on behaviour 

During my MSc degree, me and three other students went to Lundy Island, of the east cost of Devon, UK, to study oystercatcher behaviour. Few studies focus on how tide influences behaviour and so we looked at whether tide affected the foraging and antagonistic behaviours of these birds. This data was unpublished, but there is a link below to the PDF of our work.

From the wet tropics to the dry deserts