Josh Firth

EGI Research Fellow


Research Interests

The social lives of wild animals is an intriguing and important part of their ecology. Through tracking the activity and movements of Wytham Wood’s tits, I focus on inferring the social networks between individuals as they form winter feeding flocks together. It is then possible to identify how individuals differ in their social behaviour, who they form strong social bonds with, and how the environment may shape their society. I also use field experiments involving a “selective feeding system” that allows the automatic control of which wild birds are allowed to feed together, and which are only allowed to feed at separate feeding stations to one another. Through combining these observational and experimental approaches, I assess how social structure is directly, and influentially, linked with individuals’ decision making, the transmission of social information, the learning of new strategies, and how these processes influence their survival and reproductive success.






Selected Publications

  • Firth & Sheldon. 2016. Social carry-over effects underpin trans-seasonally linked structure in a wild bird population. Ecology Letters; 19 (11): 1324–1332

  • Firth et al. 2016. Pathways of information transmission amongst wild songbirds follow experimentally imposed changes in social foraging structure. Biology Letters; 12 (6): 20160144

  • Firth et al. 2015. Experimental Evidence that Social Relationships Determine Individual Foraging Behavior. Current Biology; 25 (23): 3138–43

  • Firth & Sheldon. 2015. Experimental manipulation of avian social structure reveals segregation is carried over across contexts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences; 282 (1802).

  • Firth et al. 2015. The influence of nonrandom extra-pair paternity on heritability estimates derived from wild pedigrees. Evolution; 69 (5): 1336-44