Professor Tim Guilford

Research Interests

Although I still maintain an interest in the evolution of animal signals, especially warning signals, which was the subject of my early research, I now concentrate on trying to unravel the mechanisms by which animals map the environments through which they travel. What cues do birds use to navigate home across familiar areas? What do their maps look like? How versatile is the spatial knowledge they store?

The questions range from cognitive to ecological, homing pigeons are the principal model, and the techniques involve field experiments using miniature GPS loggers, on-board cameras, and analytical approaches borrowed from computational engineering. Most recently I have been extending my research group’s work to trying to understand how long distance wandering seabirds (many of which are of vulnerable conservation status) migrate, map and navigate across the open oceans.

Additional Information

I have a strong interest in promoting the public understanding of biological science through TV and radio.


  • Young frigatebirds learn how to compensate for wind-drift

  • Short-term behavioural impact contrasts with long-term fitness consequences of biologging in a long-lived seabird

  • Natal imprinting to the Earth’s magnetic field in a pelagic seabird

  • Manx shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) rafting behaviour revealed by GPS tracking and behavioural observations

  • Patterns of at-sea behaviour at a hybrid zone between two threatened seabirds.

  • Shearwaters know the direction and distance home but fail to encode intervening obstacles after free-ranging foraging trips.

  • Light pollution causes object collisions during local nocturnal manoeuvring flight by adult Manx shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus)

  • The shearwater's world

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