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6 July 2016

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Professor Biro in Natural Curiosities

Professor Dora Biro’s research will be appearing in a new documentary presented by Sir David Attenborough later this year.


St Hugh’s College’s Tutorial Fellow and Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour, Dora Biro, was recently visited by the well-known naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. Sir David came to Oxford to meet with Professor Biro as a part of his Natural Curiosities documentary series. Now going into its fourth series, Natural Curiosities was first broadcast in 2013 and looks at some of nature’s most fascinating evolutionary stories.

Professor Biro’s research examines avian navigation, with a particular focus on the role of vision and memory. In the episode filmed in Oxford, Sir David explains Professor Biro’s findings regarding how birds use visual landmarks to navigate, and how they have adapted to the impact of human society’s altering of the landscape. The new series of Natural Curiosities will be broadcast later this year.

In June Professor Biro also presented an Academic Lecture associated with some of her current research on: ’The Hows and Whys of Living in Groups: Perspectives from Birds and Apes’.

The over-arching aim of Professor Biro’s research is concerned with gaining an insight into the general principles underlying group-living in animals. Her lecture considered her current focus on the mechanisms and consequences of social living.

In her own words: ‘Living in groups presents both challenges and opportunities. Group members have to resolve potential conflicts and make joint decisions on how to coordinate their activities if the group is to remain cohesive, but they can also draw on each other’s knowledge to solve problems better, passing these solutions down from generation to generation to build animal “cultures”.

‘Professor Biro’s research investigates the cognitive underpinnings of these phenomena – group decision-making, collective intelligence, social learning and culture – in both birds and primates, and tries to pinpoint general organisational principles that have interesting parallels in human society.’


The photograph above is provided under license courtesy of Humble Bee Films Copyright


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