James Westrip

I received my BA (Hons) from the University of Cambridge in 2011, and spent the following year working as a volunteer research assistant for Dr. Claire Spottiswoode in the Behavioural Ecology group at Cambridge.


My research interests are centred on avian social and breeding behaviour, and during the course of my PhD (supervised by Dr. Matt Bell & Dr. Per Smiseth) I hope to investigate intra- and interspecific signalling and communication in the Southern pied babbler as part of the Pied Babbler Research Project run by Assoc. Prof Amanda Ridley (www.babbler-research.com). Utilising playback and feeding experiments I aim to ascertain the amount of information use by babblers in a social context.

Using the sentinel system of the babblers I will investigate whether they make adjustments to personal contributions this public good given the state of others, and also investigate whether alarm caller reliability is monitored by other group members. Additionally I intend to explore the role of vocalisations in the context of nestling provisioning, investigating whether nestling provisioners transfer information from the nest site to the foraging group, which may be several hundred metres away. Finally, I will be undertaking observational work to see which other bird species may be found around babbler groups, and exploring whether the babblers utilise information from heterospecific sources when making foraging decisions using playback experiments.