LATEST RESEARCH PROJECTS

Project | Doctoral

Under the supervision of Dr. Anne Clark at Binghamton University, I am currently investigating the role non-cognitive factors can play in cognitive test performance in wild American crows. This may include sensitivity to environmental stimuli, differences in exploratory behavior, and social factors.

Project | Tamar

Project Tamar is a Brazilian NGO dedicated to the recovery and conservation of the sea turtle populations that lay eggs and feed along Brazil's coast. I worked at the Visitor Centre in Ubatuba, where I gave guided educational tours in both English and Portuguese to members of the public, accompanied researchers on their trips to pick up sick and injured turtles and helped in the recovery area where the turtles were treated before being returned to the wild. My time at Tamar allowed me to learn not only about the animals themselves but also about the challenges of successfully implementing a conversation project in a developing country. 

Project | Master's

Social organization and decision-making in wild jackdaws


For my Master's degree I was supervised by Dr. Alex Thornton and investigated sociality in wild jackdaws at both the flock level and the pair bond level. By analysing the provisioning and vigilance rates of nesting male and female jackdaws, I was able to find evidence suggesting an important role for paternal care and tentative evidence for possible compensation between partners. When it came to decision-making in flocks, I found that in the evenings a high percentage of cloud cover led birds to arrive earlier at their roosts. I also investigated the role that corvid vocalisations might play in decision-making and found evidence suggesting they may reach consensus decisions about when to leave their roost based on a proportional quorum threshold.

Project | Undergraduate

Sociality and behavioral contagion in rooks, jackdaws and Eurasian jays


For my final undergraduate project, where I was supervised by Professor Nicola Clayton and Dr. Corina Logan, I investigated behavioural contagion in three different species of corvid. Our analysis of three separate behaviors - fluffing, bill wiping and preening - indicated no contagion for fluffing and preening in rooks and jays and in the case of bill wiping all three species showed a suppression of behavior following a demonstration by another bird. These results conflicted with those found in similar experiments carried out on rooks on the same site in a different aviary, and I suggested that this may be due to cultural transmission causing the same signals to have different functions in different populations.

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© 2020 Rebecca Pearce
 

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jackdaw

Weyland (jackdaw)