Personal profile

Research

I am interested in how animals cope with challenging environmental conditions, such as those encountered in human-modified landscapes linked to supplementary feeding, habitat modification, urbanisation and human disturbance. My research incorporates physiology, behaviour and evolution to understand how birds respond to environmental stressors and the consequences for performance and fitness. I combine experimental and comparative approaches, primarily in field studies of wild birds, paired with lab measurements of physiological (e.g. hormones, oxidative stress) and molecular (e.g. telomeres, gene expression) traits. I also use 'omics approaches to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying phenotypic responses. 

I am currently focused on two main research themes, as outlined below. In addition, I have ongoing projects on urban avian ecology with Caroline Isaksson (Lund University) and Pablo Salmón (Institute of Avian Research, Germany), landscape of fear with Susanne Åkesson (Lund University) and MHC diversity in songbirds with Helena Westerdahl (Lund) and Anna Drews (Lund). 

Supplementary feeding, thermoregulation and infection tolerance

Intentional feeding of wildlife by humans is a hugely popular pastime, yet we still know little about the consequences for wildlife. Using a combination of large-scale experimental manipulations of food supply in the wild and aviary experiments, I am studying how supplementary feeding affects energetics, immune responses and infection tolerance. Our recent research outputs have shown that provisioned birds utilise shallower nocturnal hypothermia in winter and exhibit an attenuated response to endotoxin consistent with the acquisition of tolerance. Ongoing studies are investigating how supplementary feeding affects the suite of physiological and behavioural responses to infection, the mechanisms by which feeding confers endotoxin tolerance and how feeder use and social interactions affect the acquisition of tolerance. The focal study species is the great tit, which is resident year-round and uses nestboxes for breeding and roosting in winter, facilitating its study year-round.

Life-history ecology of tawny owls

Collaborator: Johan Nilsson (Lund University)

Using nestbox-breeding populations of tawny owls, we are investigating various questions related to movement and foraging ecology, ecotoxicology and life-history strategies. The tawny owl is a long-lived top avian predator that occurs in both human-modified and natural landscapes. Tawny owls are thus potentially vulnerable to anthropogenic influences associated with habitat loss and modification, noise and light disturbance and exposure to rodenticide poisons. Current research efforts are focussed on combining tracking data with studies of diet and sub-lethal effects of rodenticides. Read more on our project page here.

Career and education

2017–present Researcher, Lund University, Sweden

2015–17 Postdoctoral Fellow, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship, Lund University, Sweden

2014 PhD, University of Glasgow, UK (Supervisors: Pat Monaghan & Mark Bolton)

2008 MSc, University of Bangor, UK (Supervisors: Jan Hiddink & Mike Tetley)

2005–07 Conservation Policy Officer, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK

2004 BSc, University of East Anglia, UK (Supervisor: Isabelle Cote)

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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Collaborations the last five years

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