Human activities have substantially modified the visual environment, often introducing features that animals are not adapted to deal with. For example, wind and solar energy installations are key to addressing the global climate crisis but create collision hazards for birds that require appropriate mitigation. Likewise, urbanization of the environment alters the movement patterns of birds and other animals in a variety of ways, sometimes leading to direct human-wildlife conflict (e.g. fouling of built infrastructure countered by perching deterrence). Understanding the sensory ecology and behavioural bases of these effects is essential to mitigating their impacts, and is the subject of active research by the Oxford Flight Group. Our work to date has focused primarily on identifying the mechanisms by which birds use vision to perch, avoid obstacles, or navigate home. We also specialise in understanding pursuit and evasion behaviours in the natural environment. Our current work uses these insights to design bio-informed mitigations with the aim of reducing human impact. Potential DPhil projects include: (i) designing and testing patterns for wind turbine blades that will promote the natural collision avoidance behaviours of birds; (ii) visualizing how birds see built infrastructure, to enable bio-informed designs that reduce collision risk or deter perching; (iii) analysing how birds use the visual landscape to navigate and testing the impacts of landscape-level change. I am interested more broadly in the creation of digital twins of ecosystems, and in biodiversity assessment using cutting-edge tools in computer vision, and welcome enquiries in these areas. Potential research methodologies include the use of digital twinning, image rendering, drone surveying, motion capture, and bio-logging technologies.
Qualifications and Experience
MA Oxon. Biological Sciences (1998), DPhil Zoology (2003). I have supervised 15 DPhil students to completion, and currently supervise 5 DPhil students as primary supervisor.