Guill McIvor

Guill small1 Guill McIvor
Associate Research Fellow

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

g.mcivor AT

I grew up in the Scottish borders, where, after my (obligatory) career in junior rugby came to a close, I began to pursue a growing interest in the avian taxa by taking up falconry. During my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow I radio-tracked 40 red kites in northern Scotland to determine why this population had failed to establish as successfully as populations in other parts of the UK. For my honours project I worked on a farm in Iceland where I used wild Eider ducks to investigate why many shorebirds shift from mono-ester to di-ester preen waxes during the breeding season. Following this I moved to St Andrews in 2008 for a PhD with Sue Healy, investigating the nest site choices of crows, and how crows’ nests upon power-poles might best be managed to minimise the occurrence of nest-caused power cuts. While I have become very interested in both the fields of nest site selection and the resolution of human/wildlife conflicts, as an active bird ringer I am also interested in avian migration and the use of large ringing datasets to investigate both population demographics and aspects of life history strategies.


  • 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 Guill McIvor

    -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