Information ecology & co-evolution

Our research seeks to understand how animals acquire and use information, how this influences their fitness, and the evolution of others in their environments.

Redstart feeding cuckoo chick

Animals gather information from two main sources: personal experience ('personal information') and by observing the actions of others ('social information').  We are interested in why and when each of these types of information is used, whether one is favoured over the other, or if information is instead combined.  The way an individual uses information may have implications for others in their community - if they use social information, it becomes available to a wider network of individuals.  Or, if information is passed on with error, this could affect evolutionary outcomes for the 'third party' - the prey being eaten, or the brood parasite attempting to lay its egg.

Our current research uses information ecology theory to address three key questions:

(1) what are the conditions that enable host switching by parasites, and the evolution of defences in hosts?

(2) how do aposematic warning signals evolve in prey?

(3) can we improve conservation interventions through social information?

See more on our project pages

People involved

Rose Thorogood, principal investigator

Edward Kluen, postdoctoral researcher

Katja Rönkä, postdoctoral researcher

Caitlin Andrews, PhD student / University of Cambridge, UK

Liisa Hämäläinen, PhD student / University of Cambridge, UK

Victoria Franks, PhD student / University of Cambridge, UK