I am an
evolutionary behavioral ecologist interested in how extragenetic inheritance
systems such as culture and territorial inheritance are influenced by (and in
turn influence) ecology, sociality, and life history. My research uses a
combination of field observation and experimentation, hierarchical Bayesian
statistical modelling, and game-theoretical and population modelling. Some of
my ongoing research questions include:
predicts individual variation in social learning strategies and how does
individual behavior shape population-level cultural dynamics?
- How does
sociality and ecology influence both the origins and maintenance of cultural
traits in populations?
social and ecological factors predict territorial bequeathal and dispersal?
- How is
social learning utilized by organisms across different life history stages?
- How do
organisms integrate both personal and social information and what are the
implications of this for structuring cultural variation and dynamics?
in dusky footed woodrats (Neotoma
with woodrats, conducted with MPIO’s Mary Brooke McElreath, looks at
bequeathal—a poorly understood form of breeding dispersal where juveniles
inherit the natal territory and parents disperse. While woodrats often bequeath
their territory to their offspring, this is not always the case-- juveniles may
also disperse. To understand bequeathal, we are testing predictions from a game
theoretical model we developed to see the conditions under which bequeathal
would be favored by natural selection. Since 2011, we have been collecting data
on woodrat relatedness, population density, movement ecology, and territory
quality at the Quail Ridge Biological Reserve in Napa County, California, USA.
transmission and innovation in white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus)
recently started a fieldsite in Coiba National Park, Panama looking at
extractive foraging innovation, cultural transmission of tool use, genetic
uniqueness and dispersal ecology in
capuchins with Meg Crofoot of UC Davis. I also work with Susan Perry of UCLA to
analyze long-term data collected on capuchin social learning and behavior at
Reserva Biological Lomas Barbudal, Costa Rica. My dissertation work at Lomas
examined the dynamics of cultural transmission of extractive foraging behaviors
and understanding what properties of individuals predict the origins and
transmission of innovations across behavioral domains.
methods and theoretical modeling of cultural transmission
also interested in developing and communicating dynamic, hierarchical
statistical modeling techniques for examining social learning data-- and
behavioral data more generally. This includes dealing with multinomial data,
correlations between behaviors, using multiple learning strategies
simultaneously, and individual variation in the integration of personal and
social information. My goal is to link analytical techniques more closely to
the theoretical models we use to inform our predictions in behavioral ecology
and cultural evolution. This work is primarily done using Hamiltonian MCMC
(r-STAN). All of my code, simulations, and data (when possible) are openly
shared on my GitHub account. Ongoing theoretical modeling projects look at
gene-culture coevolution in stage structured populations, interactions between
frequency dependent learning and individual learning, and social learning in
rapidly changing environments. The quantitative components of my research are
conducted with MPIO’s Lucy Aplin, Mary Brooke McElreath and Richard McElreath
at MPI-Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.