Elsa Mardiné

McGill University
Ph.D. candidate

Supervisor: Mélanie Guigueno
Start: 2021-09-01
End: 2025-09-01
Personal page


Cognitive ecology of the obligate brood parasite brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater): sexual selection and neuronal plasticity related to spatial memory
My PhD project aims to advance our understanding of cognitive ecology and neuroecology related to spatial memory in cowbirds. Indeed, I will investigate the roles of sexual selection as well as cognitive performance and neural plasticity as evolutionary forces that can shape an ecologically important cognitive trait, such as spatial memory. First, I will explore sexual selection and mate choice based on an ecologically-relevant specific cognitive ability for cowbirds, spatial memory. Then, I will aim to study the relationship between female’s hippocampus features, spatial cognition and reproductive success in the wild. Finally, I will investigate the relationship between hippocampal neurogenesis and different cognitive tasks performances (spatial and non-spatial) under controlled conditions.


cognitive ecology, neuroecology, Brown-headed cowbird, Spatial cognition, sexual selection