Stephen Barlow

Research Associate


Research Interests

I joined the Behavioural Ecology Research group in 2001, my research interests now lie in four main areas: - i) I have been looking at parent offspring communication in birds, currently I am reviewing the cost of signalling between chicks and their parents. It has been assumed that for communication between chicks and their parents to be honest there must be a cost. In what form these costs are invoked and what communications occurs between parents is an area of controversy. ii) Shape recognition and tool use in crows (a) It has been established that New Caledonia Crows (NCCs), are able to distinguish between the length and or the diameter of a tool, tool selectivity. What is not known is their ability to recognised different shapes. I am looking at shape recognition and tool use in NCCs. (b) Further, there exists an asymmetry in children in how they solve the same problem. It is known that young children, 18 months and older, have varying abilities to select different shaped “Tools” when given a choice between one tool and several holes or many tools and one hole. A comparison between children and crows will help to distinguish the brain pathways and the rules governing this asymmetry. In collaboration with the Visual Development Units in Oxford, and UCL in London, we are running a parallel series of experiments looking at shape discrimination and tool use in children. iii) Decision making and risk taking is a growing area for study, particularly by economist and criminologist. My interest is in decision making and risk taking by children and teenagers; particularly age related and gender differences. iv) The importance of the Galapagos Islands and its flora and fauna has long been recognised. Many rare and endangered species of animals and plants inhabit the islands. The sensitivities of populations to changes in climate can be monitor during extreme climate events, e.g. El Nino. The response to such events was looked at in the Galapagos flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber.






Selected Publications

  • F. Hernan Vargas, Stephen Barlow, Gustavo Jimenez- Uzcategui, Tom Hart, Juan Chavez , Sixto Naranjo, and D. W. Macdonald (2008) Effects of climate variation on the abundance and distribution of flamingos, Phoenicopterus ruber, in the Galapagos Islands. Journal of  Zoology 276, 252-265.