Principal Investigator

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Alex Thornton

Cognitive and cultural evolution

Postdoctoral Research Fellows

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Guill McIvor

Avian life history, cognition, collective behaviour and human-wildlife conflict

Amanda People

Amanda Lucas

Cognition and human culture

PhD students

Michael People
Michael Kings

Foraging and social dynamics in jackdaws

Victoria People
Victoria Lee

Jackdaws’ cognitive responses to a changing world




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Beki Hooper

The value of relationships: cognitive and ecological cosnequences of avian social bonds

MRes students

Isabel Driscoll: Mobbing and social learning in meerkats
Emma Lokuciejewski: Ranging behaviour in reintroduced Bornean orangutans

Former group members

Richard Woods
PhD student, University of Exeter, 2012-2016: Collective responses to acoustic threat information in jackdaws

Alison Greggor
PhD student, University of Cambridge, 2012-2016: A critical evaluation of neophobia in corvids: causes, consequences and conservation implications

Gabrielle Davidson
PhD student, University of Cambridge, 2010-2014: Functions of Gaze Sensitivity and Iris Colour in Birds

Jolle Jolles
BBSRC-funded Research Assistant, Cambridge Jackdaw Project, 2010-2012
PhD student, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, 2012-
Read about Jolle and his work on and

Lies Zandberg
Masters intern, University of Wageningen and Cambridge Jackdaw Project, 2012

Rebecca Pearce
MPhil student, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, 2011-2012


  • New paper with UWA collaborators in Nature: Cognitive performance is linked to group size and affects fitness in Australian magpies.

    New HFSP grant: Collective behaviour and information transmission in heterogeneous societies. Collaborating with Nick Ouellette (Stanford) and Richard Vaughan (SFU)


    Cooperative breeding doesn’t make you smarter. New paper open access in Journal of Zoology


    New TREE paper: The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning

    New paper on human cumulative culture in Scientific Reports


    Jackdaws recognise human faces! Gabrielle’s new paper is out. See coverage on ITV and BBC


    New ESRC grant! Cognitive Requirements of Cumulative Culture: Expts with Typically Developing and Autistic People. Collaborating with Christine Caldwell & Francesca Happé

    New paper with Oxford collaborators in Nature: cultural conformity in great tits

    Enormous congratulations to Gabrielle who passed her PhD viva. Well done Dr Davidson!

    Comparative cognition can help conservation: read Alison’s new paper in TREE












    Coverage of Gabrielle’s Biology Letters paper in the press and on YouTube












    Gabrielle has a new paper accepted in Biology Letters! 


    Gabrielle’s gaze sensitivity review is out!













    Took part in our survey about corvids in your garden? Click here to see preliminary results.

    New publications: 

    - Comparative cognition for conservationists. Trends Ecol. Evol.

    - Towards wild psychometrics. Behav. Ecol.

    - How and why are some animals so smart?. Behav. Ecol.

    - Jackdaw nestlings can discriminate between conspecific calls but do not beg specifically to their parents. Behav. Ecol.

    – Salient eyes deter conspecific nest intruders in wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula). Biol. Lett.

    – Gaze sensitivity: function and mechanisms from sensory and cognitive perspectives. Anim. Behav.

    – Heterogeneous structure in mixed-species corvid flocks in flight. Anim. Behav.

    Animal Minds: Phil. Trans. issueAnimal Minds e1345931827281 People

    -Identification of learning mechanisms in a wild meerkat population. PloS ONE

    – Innovative problem-solving in wild meerkats. Anim. Behav.

    – How do banded mongooses locate and select anvils for cracking encased food items? Behav. Proc.

    – Teaching can teach us a lot. Anim. Behav.

    – Cooperation and punishment in nature. TREE