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Department of Zoology



I graduated with BSc (Hons) in Zoology from Aberystwyth University in 2011, and from an MSc in Wild Animal Biology at the Zoological Society of London/Royal Veterinary College in 2012.


I am interested in how animals use information to alter behaviour, and how this affects survival in changing environments.

For my PhD, I am using a threatened New Zealand passerine (the hihi, Notiomystis cincta) as a wild study system to experimentally test how young, naïve, animals develop adaptive information trade-offs (deciding when best to use social and personal information), what early life experiences affect this ability, and how this may ultimately affect survival. I am supervised by Dr Rose Thorogood (co-supervised by Dr John Ewen, ZSL).


Key publications: 

Franks, V. R. & Thorogood, R. (2018) Older and wiser? Age differences in foraging and learning by an endangered passerine. Behavioural Processes 148: 1-9

Dyer, E. E., Cassey, P., Redding, D. W., Collen, B., Franks, V. R., Gaston, K. J., Jones, K. E., Kark, S., Orme, C. D. L, Blackburn, T. M (2017) The global distribution and drivers of alien bird species richness. PLoS Biology 15(1): e2000942

Franks, V.R. & Marshall, R.C. (2013) Mechanisms and extent of information transfer in socially foraging guppies, Poecilia reticulata. Animal Behaviour 85(1):103-108

Other publications: 

Franks, V. R., Ewen, J. G. & Thorogood, R. (2018) Importance of social connections for winter survival of juvenile hihi Notimystis cincta in New Zealand. BOU funded project report

Franks, V. (2010) Social dynamics in a pride of captive Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) at Cotswold Wildlife Park. RATEL (Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers), 26:22-27

PhD Student

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