Book progress

27 02 2018

Me and Mike‘s book inches slowly forward: glacial, but at least it’s still moving. I’m in Bristol for two days, and we’re working on finalising text on the logic of validating welfare indicators. In the pile of papers I brought over with me, I found essentially the same notes written over and over in different forms over the years (this is half scary, half reassuring). So yesterday’s job was to consolidate them, type them up, and relegate paper to the recycling bin. And… mission accomplished!


Happy Valentine’s!

15 02 2018

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Anaesthesia looks worse if you think it’s lethal

14 02 2018

Fascinating find from Tina (adding to other nice recent work on scoring bias by Frank Tuyttens):

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Crazy-eyed party starlings

14 02 2018

Despite being in count-down mode for a UK trip, I treated mysScreenshot 2018-02-13 20.03.01elf to the Integrative Biology seminar this week. It looked like a nice behavioural talk, plus it’s always good catching up with interesting people like Andrew McAdam and Amy Newman (who’s incidentally just agreed to be Miranda‘s MSc examiner).

The presenter was Dr. Sarah Guindre-Parker (Columbia/UoG), and her talk on African starlings was terrific, though I probably didn’t get from it the main message she wanted (that allo-parental care is just a mildly beneficial side effect of group-living, and that it’s group-living that¬†really boosts survival especially in some environmental conditions).


I was more mesmerised by the species itself. Both sexes have dazzling (and seemingly identical) plumage, with wild white eyes: already pretty strange. They can live for 12 years or more, and which birds alloparent in any given season, and which chicks they help care for, seems to have no rhyme or reason.¬† Furthermore, in any one breeding season, about half the animals just don’t bother (for reasons no-one knows): a sizeable chunk of the population, even though they could reproduce or help, just eschews all things baby altogether. Then those that do perform parental duties are pretty lackadaisical: they only make a couple of provisioning trips an hour (very slow compared to other species), and some of these they just fake – taking food to the infants and then taking it away again. Totally hilarious.


Pain in the brain

12 02 2018

Click here for a great new four-part BBC radio series on pain.

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“Logic Day”

12 02 2018

It was my group’s turn to host “Behaviour Group” last week, so we decided to wrap up the logic reading we’ve been doing for the last few months with a presentation.

Everyone’s slides and examples were just perfect. But without Mike’s teaching experience (and so ability to engage and work with a full room of people), to be honest it wasn’t quite as much fun as the last time we did this.

Below are Misha, Aimee and Aileen presenting their examples (Andrea did some too but I didn’t get a good picture).


Email of the week

9 02 2018

From me this time, to Aimee. Very sensible experimental design advice actually, but I’ll just leave it at that.

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