How do environmental factors influence sheep movement, space use and social behaviour?
This animal behaviour honours project aims to identify how environmental factors influence movement, space use and social behaviour in Merino sheep.
The environment fundamentally influences animal behaviour. Merinos, like all mobile animals, move through the environment to fulfil their basic resource requirements, such as to forage or seek shelter.
This project will compare movement, space use and the typical sheep social network structure between environmental conditions – for example, paddocks that are topographically simple versus complex and rugged. This will provide important insight into the relationship between the environment and sheep behaviour.
GPS data collected from collars worn by each individual of a sheep flock will help determine individual sheep characteristics. 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.
Study how animals interact with the environment and with other animals
Dr Stephan Leu studies animal behaviour in an ecological and evolutionary framework. His research aims to understand:
- what drives the emergence of spatial and social structure in populations;
- how animals interact with their physical and social environment; and
- what the consequences are for health and fitness.
To address these questions, he typically uses intensive behavioural observations often through animal attached sensors (GPS). A uniting link between his research questions is the intimate knowledge of the movement trajectories of all individuals of large groups of animals.
His research interests sit at the interface of three research areas:
- Animal social behaviour and networks
- Animal movement
- Disease ecology and transmission networks
If you are interested in any of these areas, please contact Stephan to discuss potential project ideas.
Research area: Animal social behaviour and networks, Animal movement, Disease ecology and transmission networks
Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Animal Science