Beki Hooper

beki photo e1519854001294 Beki Hooper

PhD student

Centre for Ecology and Conservation
University of Exeter, Cornwall campus
Penryn TR10 9FE

rh565 AT
Profile on ResearchGate

The evolution of social relationships is my primary research interest. Since childhood, the intricacies and complexity of social relationships in humans has fascinated me, and as I became more attuned to the natural world, the parallels I saw in the wildlife I watched engrossed me even further. The hierarchical societies, friendships and partnerships that superficially seemed unique to a human life are ubiquitous in the animal kingdom, and this led me to wonder why social relationships evolve: what threads connect the plethora of social complexity we see in the world?

Social evolution has thus been the cord connecting my research interests, which have ranged from exploring whether there is an adaptive basis to differing social strategies in primates, to the social and geographic correlates of the killer whale skin microbiome.

I am now exploring the adaptive value of relationships in jackdaws. My overarching aim is to address whether well-bonded partners show increased cooperative capability and increased fitness relative to less bonded pairs, and thus, to explore whether there is selection pressure on partnership strength and cooperative ability. I will do this by integrating molecular, experimental and life history data from a wild population of Cornish jackdaws, as part of the Cornish Jackdaw Project.

  • 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 Beki Hooper

    -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