Do sheep hang out with other sheep who have similar personalities?

Investigate whether sheep preferentially group with individuals of a similar behavioural type (personality).

Sheep grazing, Roseworthy

This honours project will determine whether sheep preferably associate with other individuals that are similar in their behavioural type, and whether this results in an assortative social network structure. This will provide important insight into the drivers of sheep social interactions and how this upscales to the social network structure of the population.

Animal behavioural types or personalities are defined as consistent behavioural tendencies. We have shown that sheep have individual behavioural types, and differ in their boldness/shyness and exploration behaviour.

In addition, it has been shown that animal groups often consist of individuals that are similar in their phenotype, including in their behavioural type.

In this project, you will use GPS data collected from collars worn by each individual of a sheep flock. Using data from existing database, you will develop high-level analytical skills as you explore individual sheep behavioural types.

Opportunities to help with fieldwork and further data collection may be possible.

Stephan Leu


Dr Stephan Leu

Research area: Animal social behaviour and networks, Animal movement, Disease ecology and transmission networks

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Animal Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Animal science, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Production animal health, Honours projects - Stephan Leu, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Animal and veterinary bioscience, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Animal behaviour