Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
I received my B.A. in Biology with a minor in Mathematics from Rutgers University-Newark in New Jersey. I have always been interested in mammalian behaviour and how this is affected by captivity. Under the guidance of Georgia Mason, I will be studying which aspects of wild ranging behaviour predict the degree to which captive Carnivora perform stereotypic behaviours like repetitive pacing. Previous research, which compared the abnormal behaviour of dozens of species, has shown that natural home-range size predicts the severity of these stereotypies, but we are now interested in identifying which specific aspects of natural ranging behaviour are important. For example, it is how far animals in each species naturally travel each year, how many different dens they typically have over the course of a year, or how flexible a species is to change in their environment? Stereotypic behaviors are used as an indicators of poor welfare as they often reflect the following: internal states caused by the captive environment that can trigger a specific behavioural response; that the captive environment is causing a state of sustained stress that can affect certain brain regions and cause abnormal repeated actions or over-utilized fixed routines; and/or early experiences have caused long-lasting effects past infancy from issues with central nervous system development.