ProjectExamining the consequences of experience and behavioural syndromes on exploration propensities
Exploration comprises of behaviour patterns concerned with gathering information about the environment. Information gleaned from exploration has been shown to influence decision making in many animal species. However, not all individuals have the same propensities for exploration. The existence and heritability of individual variation in exploratory behaviour has been established in several species, and environmental factors can shape exploratory tendencies. Yet, across individuals, exploratory behaviour is often correlated with other behavioural traits, such as boldness-shyness, forming a ‘behavioural syndrome’. Whether syndromes are hard limits to behavioural plasticity is relatively unknown. This can have considerable evolutionary consequences if, for example, these syndromes are implicated in causing maladaptive behaviour outside an appropriate context. I am interested in how variation in individual experience shapes exploration propensities, how constrained plasticity in exploration propensities is by behavioural syndromes, whether such plasticity has fitness consequences and what the neurobiological correlates of differing responses to novelty are.