Do sheep hang out with other sheep who have similar personalities?
Investigate whether sheep preferentially group with individuals of a similar behavioural type (personality).
This honours project will determine whether sheep preferably associate with other individuals that are similar in their behavioural type, and whether this results in an assortative social network structure. This will provide important insight into the drivers of sheep social interactions and how this upscales to the social network structure of the population.
Animal behavioural types or personalities are defined as consistent behavioural tendencies. We have shown that sheep have individual behavioural types, and differ in their boldness/shyness and exploration behaviour.
In addition, it has been shown that animal groups often consist of individuals that are similar in their phenotype, including in their behavioural type.
In this project, you will use GPS data collected from collars worn by each individual of a sheep flock. Using data from existing database, you will develop high-level analytical skills as you explore individual sheep behavioural types.
Opportunities to help with fieldwork and further data collection may be possible.
Study how animals interact with the environment and with other animals
Dr Stephan Leu studies animal behaviour in an ecological and evolutionary framework. His research aims to understand:
- what drives the emergence of spatial and social structure in populations;
- how animals interact with their physical and social environment; and
- what the consequences are for health and fitness.
To address these questions, he typically uses intensive behavioural observations often through animal attached sensors (GPS). A uniting link between his research questions is the intimate knowledge of the movement trajectories of all individuals of large groups of animals.
His research interests sit at the interface of three research areas:
- Animal social behaviour and networks
- Animal movement
- Disease ecology and transmission networks
If you are interested in any of these areas, please contact Stephan to discuss potential project ideas.
Stephan is the new lecturer in animal behaviour at Roseworthy campus and will begin to take students in early 2020
Research area: Animal social behaviour and networks, Animal movement, Disease ecology and transmission networks
Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Animal Science