Collaborations and datasets
Studies of mating systems and social organisation have been central to understanding of the evolution of social behaviour. The Wytham badger project is an ideal system in which to study these processes, as its complex social system provides an opportunity to investigate how both natural and kin selection shape the evolution of mating systems and social structure. This work is in collaboration with David Macdonald, Chris Newman and Christina Buesching.
The Seychelles warbler project is a model system for analyses of senescence (reduced somatic or reproductive investment in later life). We use genomic data to understand the genetic architecture of senescence and we are investigating trans-generational impacts on senescence using cellular biomarkers (such as telomere length). Additionally, we study the evolution of individual differences and helping behaviour. This project is run by Jan Komdeur, Terry Burke, David Richardson and Hannah, and is supported by Nature Seychelles.
Cooperative breeding occurs when individuals help to raise offspring that are not their own. For cooperative breeding to evolve it must be under selection and heritable, but these parameters can vary with environmental and social environmental conditions. We aim to estimate these parameters in a quantitative genetic framework using the acorn woodpecker long-term dataset. This collaboration is with Eric Walters, Joey Haydock & Walt Koenig.
European bee-eaters are facultative cooperative breeders that nest in burrows in sand-cliffs. We investigate how burrow characteristics and provisioning rates correlate with fledgling success. We are interested in whether bee-eaters in this population nest closer to relatives, resulting in clustering of kin. This research is carried out with Julia Schroeder and Sjouke Kingma.
|Lundy house sparrows
The amount a parent provisions may depend on how costly provisioning is, how beneficial it is to the offspring, and how much the social mate provisions (e.g., through indirect genetic effects). We collaborate with Julia Schroeder on the long-term study of house sparrows on Lundy Island. This isolated population allows accurate monitoring of fitness, enabling us to investigate the evolution of provisioning behaviour.
|Gender differences in scientific academia
In science, 40–77% of PhD recipients are female compared to only circa 10% of full professors, depending on research field and country. Many factors may lead to this e.g., Julia Schroeder and Hannah noted a low numbers of female versus male invited speakers at evolutionary conferences, which reduces their visibility. We call for studies that identify the underlying causes and their relative importance, so that measures can be taken to forestall the ‘leaky pipeline’.
|Groningen zebra finches
A captive population has been studied over several generations in Groningen, and the protective chromosome caps (telomeres) of these birds have been measured. Investigating the length of these telomeres over the lifetime of birds allows investigation of ageing processes. This work was a collaboration with Els Atmea, Ellis Mulder, Michael Briga, Arie van Noordwijk, and Simon Verhulst. This research was published in the Journal of Ornithology.
|Wytham great tits
Hannah built a genetic pedigree of Wytham great tits, which we used to look at promiscuity and its relationship with an exploratory personality trait. Our results showed that promiscuity can be maintained by personality-dependence rather than traditional adaptive explanations. This work was a collaboration with Sam Patrick, Jo Chapman, John Quinn and Ben Sheldon.. This research was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
|Aride hawksbill and green turtles
Hannah created a database of the nesting records of hawksbill and green turtles nesting over 25 years (1976–2001) on Aride Island, Seychelles. The number of nesting Hawksbill turtles and hatchling emergence success increased over this period thanks to conservation work overseen by Jean Mortimer.
|Yunnan snub-nosed monkey
In summer 1999 Hannah took part in an expedition with five other Cambridge University students and five students from China to investigate issues surrounding the conservation of the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti). The projects’ results and recommendations formed the basis of a Nature Conservancy project focused upon conserving the habitat of R. Bieti. The work was in collaboration with Zhao QiKun.