Aurelia Green, MSc University of Neuchâtel
I completed my BSc degree in Psychology at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. I then decided to undertake a Master’s degree in Cognitive Science at the University of Neuchâtel, which offers an interdisciplinary program at the intersection of the biological and social sciences, and allowed me to gain a broader perspective on animal behaviour and cognition. After becoming more familiar with Professor Redouan Bshary’s work, I became particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms and the evolution of cooperative behaviours in humans and non-human animals, specifically why individuals exhibit helping behaviours that benefit other individuals, despite enduring costs to themselves. Such behaviours are fascinating and present a challenge for classic evolutionary theory. My master thesis project is to investigate whether human cooperation is generalizable and if humans display stable cooperative behaviours across different contexts and over time.
Melvyn Staiff, MSc University of Neuchâtel
After my BSc degree in Biology at the University of Lausanne, I decided to undertake a MSc in Neuchâtel. I am interested in studying animal behaviour and ecology in natural systems. In Neuchâtel, I was immediately drawn to the Eco-Ethology lab led by Redouan Bshary. For my Master Thesis, I plan on working with cleaner wrasse behaviour at the Lizard Island Research Station in Australia. My MSc thesis will investigate individual variation in physiological and behavioural traits of cleaner wrasse and the potential effect of these inter-individual variations on cooperative behaviours. This project is a follow-up on Lorraine Delisle's MSc project in 2016 and will allow to test inter-annual repeatability of these variations. In addition, I will look at juvenile cleaner wrasse to describe potential ontogenetic changes in individual variations. I will start my field research in July 2017.
Mechanistic understanding of habitat preference in cleaner and non-cleaner gobies (Elacatinus spp)
Simple decision rules underlie collaborative hunting in yellow saddle goatfish (link to paper)
An experiment test of biological market theory in the cleaner fish, Labroides dimidiatus
Mutualistic cleaner fish maintains high escape performance despite privileged relationship with predators (link to paper)
Learning opportunities influence decision rules of bluestreak cleaner wrasse in a biological market context
Personality and metabolic phenotype mediate physiological defence responses in flatfish (link to paper)
Lorraine Delisle, MSc University of Neuchâtel
I finalized my BSc in Natural Resources Management (University of Applied Science of Western Switzerland Hepia, Geneva 2014) by a rewarding thesis in Tanzania, assessing the conservation value of two protected areas. As part of an Engineer in Natural Resources Management program, I joined a fieldwork team from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) studying prairie dog phenotype. Individuals of this species interact a lot, which drew my attention and I wished to learn more about general behaviour and specific cooperation strategies. Therefore, I started a MSc in Biology at the University of Neuchâtel (2015) with two specialties: animal behaviour and parasitology. My MSc thesis with Dominique explores individual variation in physiological and behavioural traits of cleaner fish and whether this variance might explain differences in cooperative behaviour that we observe in the wild.
Michelle Lampe, MSc Radboud University of Nijmegen
I am a student from the Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, where I completed my BSc and am currently doing my MSc in Biology. I am specializing in animal behaviour, ecology and cognition, but also have an extensive background in genetics and population biology. For my MSc thesis, I did a project at the Wolf Science Center in Austria. I fell in love with the concept of cognitive testing, in which you interact with the animals on a whole different level than in the wild. For my graduation project, I wanted to do something in the field of Marine Biology, preferably with a diving component. I have always been fascinated by the underwater world and my favorite vacations have been snorkeling in the Red Sea in Egypt. I contacted Dominique and Renata to do my project on cleaner gobies in the Caribbean, where I tested their swimming performance when escaping from a threat. I compared closely related cleaner and non-cleaner gobies and tested whether cleaner gobies exhibit a lower escape performance due to a reduction in the need for such a trait. I intend to submit this study for publication in 2018.
Malika Rinsoz, MSc University of Neuchâtel
I did my BSc in Biology and Ethnology at the University of Neuchâtel, a program designed to bridge natural sciences with human sciences because many scientific questions revolve around humans and their relationship with the natural environment. During this time, I worked on wolf reintroductions in Switzerland and biodiversity assessments in Swiss vineyards. For my MSc, I changed focus and decided to study animal behaviour and parasitology, also at the University of Neuchâtel. My thesis examined the effects of parasitic infections on the cognitive abilities of animals using meta-analysis. This statistical approach combines the results from different studies on a given topic to evaluate the consistency of their findings and draw a general conclusion. Published studies on human and non-human animals report both positive and negative consequences of parasites on cognition and my thesis aimed to shed some light on this interesting question. I hope to publish my results imminently.
Fausto Quattrini, MSc University of Neuchâtel
I am from the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland (Ticino) and I completed my BSc at the University of Neuchâtel. I completed my master’s thesis project in Neuchâtel, where I studied group living and the oddity effect in marine fishes. For that, I travelled to Australia to work at the Lizard Island Research Station. There, I studied group choice in three species of reef fishes to see whether their decision to join different groups is influenced by the presence of an “odd individual”. I also investigated correlations between behavioural lateralization (i.e. a side bias when turning) and the tendency of fishes to swim in a polarized fashion (i.e. to form shoals or schools). My first chapter in currently in revision and should be published in 2018.
The first chapter of my MSc thesis was just published in Behavioral Ecology! Link here
Maïwenn Jornod, MSc University of Neuchâtel
I did my Bsc and my MSc at the Uni of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. For my MSc in Biology of Parasites and Behavioural Ecology, I spent three months at the Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef, in Australia. I studied the mutualism between the cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, and its 'client' reef fishes. Combining field observations and lab experiments, I evaluated the relative importance of traits that might influence cleaning service quality offered by cleaner wrasses to their 'client' species. I submitted my thesis in Feb 2016 and I am currently working on manuscripts while I figure out what I want to do next!
Check out this paper in Biology Open on a neat side project I completed during my masters.