Victoria Lee

Victoria Victoria Lee

MRes student

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

victoria.lee2212 AT

Growing up in rural west Wales, I’ve always been fascinated by wildlife and started watching birds at a young age. It was partly these experiences which led me to study for a BSc in Zoology at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus, which is a great place to learn whilst having a whole range of natural habitats right on your doorstep. Over time I developed more of an interest in animal behaviour, particularly how individuals obtain information from their social environment and use this to make behavioural decisions. For my undergraduate research project I studied aggressive behaviour and competitive ability in burying beetles, looking at how males make decisions on when and how to fight.

Complex social environments are constantly changing, and therefore the ability to recognise individuals, track their relationships and anticipate their actions would be highly beneficial from a decision-making perspective. This requires a large amount of sophisticated cognitive processing, making jackdaws an ideal system for investigating these types of questions. For my Masters project, I am using acoustic analyses and playback experiments to find out whether jackdaws recognise each other’s calls, and whether they respond to changes in their own and others’ social relationships.

  • 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 Victoria Lee

    -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