This summer, both Amy (now Dr. Bishop) and Naomi sadly departed from our research group as they both completed their research here. Amy has returned to Alaska to work as a Post-doctoral researcher with the University of Alaska Anchorage (hopefully we’ll hear a few things about her work on this blog), and Naomi has returned home briefly before starting the next step of her research career.
But, we now have some new recruits to our research team – all looking essentially at the causes, and consequences, of individual variation in animal behaviour, but from rather different perspectives.
Courtney Schuert is just starting out on her 3-4 years of PhD research into grey seal behaviour – looking at how individuals differ in their time-activity budgets.
Zoe Fraser is doing a one year MBiol (the 4th year of her undergraduate studies), and will be trying to find out if grey seals do the same kinds of behaviours during both the day and the night!
Finally, Elana Hobkirk will be looking at individual differences in rather different group of animals – Elana is starting her Masters by research, and will be trying to unravel some of the complexities of facial signalling in wolves and domestic dogs. So, yes, we regard Elana as an ‘honorary seal biologist’, but I’m sure she’ll add a few posts about her work to this blog.
As we slip into autumn surrounded by the myriad of brightly coloured leaves in the woods around the Durham campus, Courtney, Zoe and my thoughts are turning to the imminent grey seal breeding season. By late October we hope to be on the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, surrounded by seals and starting our field data collection.
Courtney, Zoe and Elana will be adding some blogs telling us about themselves and their work, and we’ll try to keep up regular posts from the Isle of May as our field season progresses!