PROJECT

Vocal communication in the cooperatively breeding Western Australian Magpie

Researching the complex world of magpie communication

Magpies are vocally complex, and group members constantly communicate with one another throughout the day. Our previous research on cooperatively breeding species has revealed that group members constantly relay information to one another regarding predator threats, contributions to cooperative behaviour, and the presence of territory threats (non-group members).

We have an established population of magpies based in Perth. This population is fully habituated and ringed, and subject to long-term research.

We are seeking a student to conduct sound recordings, acoustic analysis and playback experiments to determine the complexity of communication among group members, what information is conveyed, and how such information benefits group members.

We would be interested in students addressing advanced issues such as the possibility of vocal negotiation of cooperation and conflict avoidance among group members.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Research team leader: Associate Professor Amanda Ridley

My main interests lie in the field of behavioural ecology. I am particularly interested in the evolution and dynamics of cooperative breeding behaviour. My research involves understanding the causes of helping behaviour, and the costs and consequences of such behaviour. I have an increasing interest in long-term population dynamics, host-brood parasite interactions in cooperative systems, and the complexity of interspecific interactions.

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