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Department of Zoology


We are delighted to welcome Dr James Herbert-Read as the new departmental lecturer in Marine Biology.

Dr Herbert-Read joins us from the University of Bristol where he was a Research Associate in the School of Biological Sciences.  James has a broad interest in behavioural ecology and marine biology, but primarily uses fishes to understand questions surrounding behaviour, sensory biology and cognition in social species.   

James has investigated how schools of fish achieve coordinated movement, share information, and make decisions together. He has also studied how both ecological and anthropogenic factors shape group behaviour. He is particularly interested in predator-prey interactions, and has explored topics including group hunting, ‘protean’ escape paths, and lateralised feeding behaviour in blue whales. One of his current research topics is investigating how environmental noise affects animal movement, perception, and behaviour, and he is currently recruiting a Research Associate to join him on this project. (Research Associate: Investigating how sensory demanding environments impact animals' perception, movements and behaviour).

James grew up in the UK before moving to Australia, where he gained his undergraduate degree and PhD from the University of Sydney. Before moving to Bristol, James held two postdoctoral research positions in Sweden, at Uppsala and Stockholm universities.

James’ work combines theory-driven questions with new advances in tracking and computer-vision technologies to quantify and understand animal behaviour in detail. James uses these techniques both in the laboratory and the field.

James is part of an international team investigating how and why sailfish hunt in groups. Recently the team discovered a simple cooperative mechanism explaining why group hunting was beneficial to individual sailfish. They found that by hunting schools of sardines together, group hunters could progressively injure prey more quickly, which lead to sailfish caching more sardines together than when alone.

James is going to be an excellent addition to the department expanding our range in Marine Biology and Behavioural Ecology.  This year he will be teaching on the second year course; “Ecology, Evolution & Conservation” and the third year module;  “Evolution and behaviour: populations and societies”.

He is accepting PhD students and currently has a Claire Barnes Studentship available: Understanding constraints and conflicts in social coordination)