Neeltje Boogert

Zebra finches solving a food puzzle
Herring gull juvenile drinking from picnic bench.
Photo by Drew Baigent

A little bit about me

I am generally interested in the evolution and ecology of cognition and social behaviour. Thus far I have studied quite a diverse array of topics, ranging from insect communication to bird song learning and mate choice for cognitive traits, the existence of a “general cognitive ability”, to social learning and the spread of information through animal groups. I am currently focussing on how developmental factors affect (social) information use, social network positions and proxies of fitness, using birds and otters as my model systems.

Herring gulls

I first became interested in herring gulls soon after moving to Cornwall in 2017. Having never lived by the sea before, I had had little exposure to herring gulls until then. My friend and colleague Laura Kelley suggested we could offer some student research projects on the behaviour of this common coastal species. Since then, I have been watching their kleptoparasitic attempts on the local beaches with great interest. I would love to find out which cognitive strategies herring gulls use in their attempts to exploit human resources, how urban life affects their health and reproductive success, and what we can do to help conserve the species while mitigating human-gull conflict.

Selected Publications

Goumas, M., Burns, I., Kelley, L.A., Boogert, N.J. (2019) Herring gulls respond to human gaze direction. Biology letters 15, 20190405.

Allison, M.-L., Reed, R., Michels, E., Boogert, N.J. (2020) The drivers and functions of rock juggling in otters. Royal Society Open Science 7, 200141.

Jolles, J.W., Briggs, H.D., Araya-Ajoy, Y.G., Boogert, N.J. (2019) Personality, plasticity and predictability in sticklebacks: bold fish are less plastic and more predictable than shy fish. Animal Behaviour 154: 193-202.

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