My research interests are in animal behaviour and behavioural ecology, with an emphasis on animal communication, bioacoustics and nonhuman animal culture.

  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal communication
  • Bioacoustics
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Nonhuman Animal Culture
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Cumulative Cultural Evolution
  • Marine Biology
  • Freshwater Biology
  • Non-invasive research technology

Below are more details of my current and past research projects

Humpback whale song evolution in the Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans

PhD, University of St Andrews

Carnegie PhD Scholarship

My PhD aims to compare the fine-scale evolution of humpback whale song across the globe. With acoustic datasets collected in both the South Pacific and Atlantic oceans I am analysing how songs may evolve differently at both temporal and spatial scales to elucidate possible mechanisms for song evolution.

Furthermore, my PhD has brought together an interdisciplinary team from musicology, philosophy and biology to assess how aesthetic cultures fit into the current cumulative cultural evolutionary framework. This work was recently published in Frontiers in Psychology: Comparative Psychology.

Sinclair, N. C., Ursell, J., South, A. and Rendell, L. (2022) From Beethoven to Beyoncé: Do changing aesthetic cultures amount to ‘cumulative cultural evolution’? Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.663397

Wintering attendance of auks at colony in the Northern Isles of Scotland

MSci Marine and Freshwater Biology, University of Glasgow

My Masters thesis and concurrent work placement at Scottish Natural Heritage focused on the wintering attendance of auks (guillemots and razorbills) at colony in the non breeding season in Shetland and Orkney.

This project utilised novel non-invasive research technology and unearthed unknown behaviour patterns at colony. Read more about this research in my first paper here and here.

Sinclair, N. C., Harris, M. P., Nager, R. G., Leakey, C. D. B., & Robbins, A. M. C. 2017. Nocturnal colony attendance by Common Guillemots Uria aalge at colony in Shetland during the pre-breeding season. Seabird, 30: 51 – 62.

Sinclair, N. C. 2017. Remote time-lapse photography to monitor attendance of auks outside the breeding season at two colonies in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No 1017

The use of passive acoustic monitoring to detect individual variation in water rail Rallus aquaticus calls

Carnegie Vacation Scholarship

Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) was used as an effective method of obtaining vocal behaviour and survey data on water rail and other marsh birds. Measurements of water rail calls were carried out to find to aid understanding in individual call characteristics at three RSPB reserves in the Greater Glasgow area.

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