Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Personality and social foraging in captive shorebirds (Red Knots)

MSc or BSc student project at NIOZ Texel 
Collective behaviour is widespread among animals, and through social learning provides individuals with ways to deal with rapid environmental change. Within collectives, animals differ in personality and are engaged in networks of social interactions. The availability and spread of information in social networks may depend on the distribution of personalities, but how is largely unknown. The aim of this experimental project is to study how personality affects social information use. In the experimental aviary at NIOZ, we will: 1) quantify exploratory personalities of Red Knots, 2) determine whether exploratory individuals provide social information on the location of resources, and 3) determine how the proportion of exploratory individuals affects foraging success of the group. We hypothesize that exploratory individuals discover novel resource patches faster than non-exploratory individuals.

Student tasks
Design and conduct a behavioural experiment, conduct personality assays, bird handling
Daily supervisors
Selin Ersoy and Allert Bijleveld (
Project start date
January - March 2020; intake interview will be some time before the starting date