Ben C Sheldon

Ben C Sheldon
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Zoology

About

386
Publications
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29,624
Citations

Publications

Publications (386)
Article
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Domesticated animals have been culturally and economically important throughout history. Many of their ancestral lineages are extinct or genetically endangered following hybridization with domesticated relatives. Consequently, they have been understudied compared to the ancestral lineages of domestic plants. The domestic pigeon Columba livia, which...
Preprint
The emergence and spread of novel behaviours via social learning can lead to rapid population-level changes whereby the social connections between individuals shape information flow. However, behaviours can spread via different mechanisms and little is known about how information flow depends on the underlying social learning rule individuals emplo...
Article
The rate of adaptive evolution, the contribution of selection to genetic changes that increase mean fitness, is determined by the additive genetic variance in individual relative fitness. To date, there are few robust estimates of this parameter for natural populations, and it is therefore unclear whether adaptive evolution can play a meaningful ro...
Article
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The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species’ range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two co-familial Eur...
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Collective behaviors are typical for many social species and can have fitness benefits for participating individuals. To maximize the benefits obtained from group living, individuals must coordinate their behaviors to some extent. What are the mechanisms that make certain individuals more likely to initiate collective behaviors, for example, by tak...
Article
The transition from nestling to fledgling is a key moment in the development of altricial birds. Mortality immediately after fledging is typically high and selection should favour fledging strategies that maximize the chance of survival. While several studies have examined the influence of ecological conditions or nestling development on the timing...
Article
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While there is overwhelming evidence for phenological responses of animal and plant populations to climate change, most studies have been conducted at the level of entire populations, thus neglecting the scale at which much selection operates and at which animals and plants respond to their environments. Here, using data from a 60-year study, we de...
Article
Many aspects of sociality rely on individuals recognising one another. Understanding how, when, and if individuals recognise others can yield insights into the foundations of social relationships and behaviours. Through synthesising individual recognition research in different sensory and social domains, and doing so across various related social c...
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Understanding why individuals carry out behaviours that benefit others, especially genetically unrelated others, has been a major undertaking in many fields and particularly in biology. Here, we focus on the cooperation literature from natural populations and present the benefits of a social network approach in terms of how it can help to identify...
Article
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In altricial birds, leaving the nest is a key life history transition associated with a high risk of mortality. Studies of numerous species have shown that young typically fledge early in the day, and it is often asserted that early fledging is important for survival; however, evidence for this hypothesis is limited. We used an automated monitoring...
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Inferring the functional shape of ecological and evolutionary processes from time series data can be challenging because processes are often not describable with simple equations. The dynamical coupling between variables in time series further complicates the identification of equations through model selection as the inference of a given process is...
Preprint
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The spread of socially-learnt behaviours occurs in many animal species, and understanding how behaviours spread can provide novel insights into the causes and consequences of sociality. Within wild populations, behaviour spread is often assumed to occur as a "simple contagion". Yet, emerging evidence suggests behaviours may frequently spread as "co...
Article
Climate warming has caused the seasonal timing of many components of ecological food chains to advance. In the context of trophic interactions, the match–mismatch hypothesis postulates that differential shifts can lead to phenological asynchrony with negative impacts for consumers. However, at present there has been no consistent analysis of the li...
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Climate change has been shown to induce shifts in the timing of life-history events. As a result, interactions between species can become disrupted, with potentially detrimental effects. Predicting these consequences has proven challenging. We apply structured population models to a well-characterised great tit-caterpillar model system and identify...
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Temporal variation in natural selection is predicted to strongly impact the evolution and demography of natural populations, with consequences for the rate of adaptation, evolution of plasticity, and extinction risk. Most of the theory underlying these predictions assumes a moving optimum phenotype, with predictions expressed in terms of the tempor...
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1. The integration and synthesis of the data in different areas of science is drastically slowed and hindered by a lack of standards and networking programmes. Long‐term studies of individually marked animals are not an exception. These studies are especially important as instrumental for understanding evolutionary and ecological processes in the w...
Preprint
Full-text available
The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species' range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two European songbi...
Article
Full-text available
Animals use behavioural cues from others to make decisions in a variety of contexts. There is growing evidence, from a range of taxa, that information about the locations of food patches can spread through a population via social connections. However, it is not known whether information about their quality transmits similarly. We studied foraging b...
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Within‐population variation in the traits underpinning reproductive output has long been of central interest to biologists. Since they are strongly linked to lifetime reproductive success, these traits are expected to be subject to strong selection and, if heritable, to evolve. Despite the formation of durable pair bonds in many animal taxa, reprod...
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In many species, individuals gather information about their environment both through direct experience and through information obtained from others. Social learning, or the acquisition of information from others, can occur both within and between species and may facilitate the rapid spread of antipredator behaviour. Within birds, acoustic signals a...
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Global climate change is altering the timing of life history events for species living in seasonal environments. These shifts in phenology can lead to the disruption of interspecific relationships with implications for individual fitness. Predicting phenological change and its population level consequences can provide insights into population persi...
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An individual’s fitness is not only influenced by its own phenotype, but by the phenotypes of interacting conspecifics. This is likely to be particularly true when considering fitness gains and losses caused by extrapair matings, as they depend directly on the social environment. While previous work has explored effects of dyadic interactions, limi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Animals use behavioural cues from others to make decisions in a variety of contexts. There is growing evidence, from a range of taxa, that information about the locations of food patches can spread through a population via social connections. However, it is not known whether information about the quality of potential food sources transmits similarl...
Preprint
Full-text available
A BSTRACT Natural populations and communities consist of individuals that differ in their phenotypes. There is increasing evidence in community ecology that consistent intraspecific variation in behaviour changes the outcome of ecological interactions. Differences in intra- and inter-specific interactions are expected to play a major role in determ...
Article
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Biological responses to climate change have been widely documented across taxa and regions, but it remains unclear whether species are maintaining a good match between phenotype and environment, i.e. whether observed trait changes are adaptive. Here we reviewed 10,090 abstracts and extracted data from 71 studies reported in 58 relevant publications...
Article
1.Changes in the timing of life history events (phenology) are a widespread consequence of climate change. Predicting population resilience requires knowledge of how phenology is likely to change over time, which can be gained by identifying the specific environmental cues that drive phenological events. Cue identification is often achieved with st...
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Understanding the epidemiological dynamics of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) in wild birds is crucial for guiding effective surveillance and control measures. The spread of H5 HPAIV has been well characterized over large geographical and temporal scales. However, information about the detailed dynamics and demographics of individua...
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Understanding species coexistence has long been a major goal of ecology. Coexistence theory for two competing species posits that intraspecific density dependence should be stronger than interspecific density dependence. Great tits and blue tits are two bird species that compete for food resources and nesting cavities. On the basis of long-term mon...
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Inferring adaptation and evolutionary change by combining data from field studies and genomics is an exciting new area in evolutionary biology but also presents challenges. These challenges are particularly acute when the focal trait has a polygenic architecture, because many long‐term field studies are sample‐size‐limited compared to studies of hu...
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Wintering songbirds have been widely shown to make economic foraging decisions to manage the changing balance of risks from predation and starvation over the course of the day. In this study, we ask whether the communication and use of information about food availability differ throughout the day. First, we assessed temporal variation in food-relat...
Preprint
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A major aim of evolutionary biology is to understand why patterns of genomic variation vary among populations and species. Large-scale genomic studies of widespread species are useful for studying how the environment and demographic history shape patterns of genomic divergence, and with the continually decreasing cost of sequencing, such studies ar...
Preprint
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Social structure can have profound evolutionary and ecological implications for animal populations. Structure can arise and be maintained via social preferences or be indirectly shaped by habitat structure. Understanding how social structure emerges is important for understanding the potential links between social structure and evolutionary and eco...
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Author summary In many animal species, the social transmission of information is important and can lead to the emergence of behavioural traditions. However, how ecological and social processes together influence information transmission and its consequences for animal culture, particularly across space, remains largely unknown. We developed a spati...
Data
Effect of conformity on the dynamics of acquisition of behavioural preferences in a single mixed population. (Top row) Acquisition curves for different values of λ. (Bottom row) Phase portrait of ds1/dτ and ds2/dτ for corresponding values of λ (by column). (EPS)
Data
Map of Wytham Woods. Each grey circle indicates the location of a feeding station, and the diameter of the circle corresponds to the number of individuals (i.e. great tits Parus major) occurring around the feeding station (i.e. a sub-population). Red stars indicate the sub-populations where two innovators trained to perform solution s1 were release...
Data
Extended model to more than two patches. (PDF)
Data
Model outputs for the environmental setting with three sub-populations. At the start of every simulation, sub-population P1 contained innovators using solution s1 (1% of its population), while sub-population P2 contained innovators using solution s2 (also 1% of its population), and sub-population P3 contained only naïve individuals. Each pixel in t...
Data
Sigmoidal acquisition curves indicating a conformity bias for different values of parameter λ. (EPS)
Article
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Mated pair bonds are integral to many animal societies, yet how individual variation in behaviour influences their formation remains largely unknown. In a population of wild great tits (Parus major), we show that personality shapes pair bonding: proactive males formed stronger pre-breeding pair bonds by meeting their future partners sooner and incr...
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The behaviour of individual birds before and during the breeding period may be an important factor determining reproductive success. One commonly observed behaviour during the breeding period in many species is the visitation of multiple potential breeding sites. Much research has attempted to determine the function and consequences of this behavio...
Preprint
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Advances in the timing of reproduction in temperate species are some of the most well documented biotic responses to increasing global temperatures. However, the magnitude and rate of these advances in timing are not equal across all taxonomic groups. These differences can lead to disruption of interspecific relationships if species respond differe...
Preprint
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The social transmission of information is critical to the emergence of animal culture. Two processes are predicted to play key roles in how socially-transmitted information spreads in animal populations: the movement of individuals across the landscape and conformist social learning. We develop a model that, for the first time, explicitly integrate...
Article
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Increasing temperatures associated with climate change may generate phenological mismatches that disrupt previously synchronous trophic interactions. Most work on mismatch has focused on temporal trends, whereas spatial variation in the degree of trophic synchrony has largely been neglected, even though the degree to which mismatch varies in space...
Article
High density SNP microarrays (‘SNP chips’) are a rapid, accurate and efficient method for genotyping several hundred thousand polymorphisms in large numbers of individuals. While SNP chips are routinely used in human genetics and in animal and plant breeding, they are less widely used in evolutionary and ecological research. In this paper we descri...
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The comment by Myers-Smith and Myers focuses on three main points: (i) the lack of a mechanistic explanation for climate-selection relationships, (ii) the appropriateness of the climate data used in our analysis, and (iii) our focus on estimating climate-selection relationships across (rather than within) taxonomic groups. We address these critique...
Article
Animal societies are often structurally complex. How individuals are positioned within the wider social network (i.e. their indirect social connections) has been shown to be repeatable, heritable and related to key life-history variables. Yet, there remains a general lack of understanding surrounding how complex network positions arise, whether the...
Article
We used extensive data from a long-term study of great tits (Parus major) in the United Kingdom and Netherlands to better understand how genetic signatures of selection translate into variation in fitness and phenotypes. We found that genomic regions under differential selection contained candidate genes for bill morphology and used genetic archite...
Article
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For organisms living in seasonal environments, synchronizing the peak energetic demands of reproduction with peak food availability is a key challenge. Understanding the extent to which animals can adjust behavior to optimize reproductive timing, and the cues they use to do this, is essential for predicting how they will respond to future climate c...
Article
Social learning is important to the life history of many animals, helping individuals to acquire new adaptive behavior. However despite long-running debate, it remains an open question whether a reliance on social learning can also lead to mismatched or maladaptive behavior. In a previous study, we experimentally induced traditions for opening a bi...
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Animal personalities can influence social interactions among individuals, and thus have major implications for population processes and structure. Few studies have investigated the significance of the social context of animal personalities, and such research has largely focused on the social organization of nonterritorial populations. Here we addre...
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Understanding the consequences of losing individuals from wild populations is a current and pressing issue, yet how such loss influences the social behaviour of the remaining animals is largely unexplored. Through combining the automated tracking of winter flocks of over 500 wild great tits (Parus major) with removal experiments, we assessed how in...
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Climate change will fundamentally alter many aspects of the natural world. To understand how species may adapt to this change, we must understand which aspects of the changing climate exert the most powerful selective forces. Siepielski et al. looked at studies of selection across species and regions and found that, across biomes, the strongest sou...
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Climate change has the potential to affect the ecology and evolution of every species on Earth. Although the ecological consequences of climate change are increasingly well documented, the effects of climate on the key evolutionary process driving adaptation - natural selection - are largely unknown. We report that aspects of precipitation and pote...
Article
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Many organisms rely on synchronizing the timing of their life-history events with those of other trophic levels—known as phenological matching—for survival or successful reproduction. In temperate deciduous forests, the extent of matching with the budburst date of key tree species is of particular relevance for many herbivorous insects and, in turn...
Article
An individual's foraging behaviour and time allocated to feeding have direct consequences for its fitness. Despite much research on population-level foraging decisions, few studies have investigated individual differences in fine-scale daily foraging patterns amongst wild animals. Here, we explore the consistency and plasticity of feeding tactics o...
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For viruses such as avian influenza, immunity within a host population can drive the emergence of new strains by selecting for viruses with novel antigens that avoid immune recognition. The accumulation of acquired immunity with age is hypothesized to affect how influenza viruses emerge and spread in species of different lifespans. Despite its impo...