Alison Greggor

Greggor Alison Greggor
PhD student

Department of Psychology
University of Cambridge
Downing Street
Cambridge CB2 3EB

alg61 AT

I am full of curiosity about the natural world. While growing up in Northern California, I was inspired by the groves of redwood trees and the animals that inhabit them. I pursued this interest at the University of California, Berkeley with an undergraduate degree in Psychology. I studied animal behaviour in the literature, laboratory and field on species ranging from hermit crabs to spotted hyenas. After graduating I spent time as a research assistant on the Big Island of Hawaii, studying the impact of tourism on Hawaiian spinner dolphins. This experience motivated me to understand how human interaction can affect the behaviour of animals. Apart from my academic interests I also am an avid distance runner.

Under the guidance of Dr Alex Thornton and Prof Nicola Clayton I am starting my PhD on wild jackdaws to understand how individuals vary in their perception of humans, and how this variation may contribute to their social learning strategies and overall fitness in different environments. Despite being highly intelligent problem solvers, jackdaw populations vary in their success across the British landscape. Figuring out the dynamic interaction between humans and these populations may be the key to understanding the behavioral and fitness differences between groups. Identifying the factors that govern animal success alongside humans is of paramount importance considering the dominance of farmland within the British landscape and the constant expansion of human settlement.


  • 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 Alison Greggor

    -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