Fitness consequences of problem-solving/learning and underlying mechanisms in wild great tits

For this project, first supported by a NSERC and then by a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellowship, we are taking advantage of long-term databases and state-of-the-art statistics to explore demographic trends, individual effects and causal paths between individual cognitive performance and fitness.

Since the beginning of my PhD, I measure inter-individual variation in cognition directly in the wild in monitored populations of Great tits and Collared Flycatchers situated on the island of Gotland, Sweden. Using this incredible amount of data, we explore the links between interindividual variation in cognitive performance and fitness (reproduction/survival) as well as sexual selection. I also ponctually implement innovative experimental designs to test the potential causal mechanisms involved (experimental manipulation of parasitix load / brood size etc.).