Theoretical Ecology Group

Institutt for biologi
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PhD Student,
Judy Jinn

I am a PhD student from UC Berkeley visiting for fall 2015. I am interested in spatial cognition and biomechanics, specifically how they interact and influence optimal moving strategies in a complex environment. At the University of Bergen, I am hoping to both learn modeling and contribute to the current models being worked on by introducing simple learning schemes.

Currently, my research examines the integration of optimal foraging choices and optimal route choice on biomechanically difficult pathways. To study this, I am investigating how wild fox squirrels (Scirus niger) choose paths on experimental apparatuses which maximize their rewards given these constraints. Such measures of biomechanical costs (e.g. path difficulty) have rarely, if at all, been studied in an optimal foraging context. For example, I predict that individuals may be more likely to attempt to cross a difficult, but short path to reach a reward. This may vary depending on the personality of the animal.

The scatter-hoarding behavior of squirrels also contributes an interesting new prospect for route choices and learning. Resources must be obtained to maintain physiological needs, but with food-storing, excess resources can be stored for future use. This behavior forces squirrels to not only make good foraging decisions, but also good caching decisions. However, caches are easily pilfered by conspecifics which have the opportunity to smell the cache and steal food.

As a visiting PhD student at the University of Bergen, I hope to take what I have learned from my experiments to apply them to the AHA Animal Model created by the Theoretical Ecology Group to model a terrestrial animal system.



Visiting from University of California Berkeley

Thormøhlensgate 53B
3rd floor
Postal Address
Department of Biology
University of Bergen
P.O. Box 7803
N-5020 Bergen