Pull a thread and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world
My daily life is filled with unravelling the mysteries of animal behaviour. My main interest lies in understanding the group- and population-level consequences of behavioural heterogeneity, especially of wildlife, and for this, I focus on concepts such as animal personality, social networks, foraging, communication, migration and learning. Study models include (but are not restricted to): waterfowl, songbirds, bats and fish.
Currently, my core research focusses on the Trinidadian guppy system, in which I study the link between social behaviour and foraging success in the wild (see video). By studying animal behaviour in the wild, I maximize the ecological-relevance of my findings. Often such field experiments come at the cost of experimental rigour, especially when studying vertebrates. Due to their small size and their naturally plastic spatial and social life, Trinidadian guppies offer the best of both worlds. We can thus causally test social factors (such as group size and group composition) by conducting group-level manipulations and we can disentangle effects of the immediate environment by doing translocations, all without trading off ecological relevance.
I am passionate about exploring the various ways that behavioural ecology can contribute to wildlife conservation. At the moment, I am mapping the evidence for the effectiveness of animal conditioning interventions in reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict, in collaboration with WWF-Netherlands (see our peer-reviewed protocol). I also plan to conduct systematic reviews on subsets of the evidence in the map. Systematic evidence synthesis does not only have the potential to contribute to policy and management decisions, but it also facilitates a more thorough and comprehensive understanding of animal behaviour principles.
Besides studying animal behaviour, I wish to inspire people with facts and stories about the amazing ways animals behave. For example, via popular science articles, blogs, vlogs, videos, interviews and, of course, Twitter. In 2016, I very much enjoyed being a lecturer for our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on animal behaviour, free to participate for everyone. As a female scientist, I also think it is important to set an example for girls all over the world. Science is not just a boy thing.
If you are interested in working with me or just join the fieldwork in Trinidad (March/April every year), you can contact me at lysanne.snijders AT wur.nl.