Year-round sociality under anthropogenic change in a cooperatively breeding bird

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Animal ecology
    • Behavioural ecology
Year-round sociality Global change
Project description

Global change challenges biodiversity worldwide, and the ability of species to respond to rapid environmental shifts is of major concern in current biology. Yet, it remains poorly understood how effects of anthropogenic change, such as large-scale habitat fragmentation and climate change, impact sociality in animals. So far, an overwhelming majority of studies focused on the breeding season, while the non-breeding season is believed to represent the most critical period in balancing costs and benefits of sociality year-round. In this project, I aim to predict how anthropogenic change shapes broad patterns of sociality based on a fine-grained understanding of the drivers underlying year-round sociality. As model system, I will study a cooperatively-breeding songbird (placid greenbul, Phyllastrephus placidus) inhabiting the fragmented cloud forest archipelago of the Eastern Arc Mountains biodiversity hotspot. Building on a unique long-term dataset, this project will combine state-of-the-art high-resolution animal tracking, statistical and predictive modelling, and a region-wide survey to address the following objectives: (i) to model large-scale habitat suitability in relation to habitat fragmentation and climatic conditions, (ii) to assess the role of spatio-temporal variation in habitat suitability in shaping sociality year-round, and (iii) to predict large-scale patterns of sociality under anthropogenic change.