Josh A Firth

Josh A Firth
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Zoology

About

82
Publications
21,350
Reads
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1,892
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2012 - April 2016
University of Oxford
Position
  • DPhil

Publications

Publications (82)
Article
Full-text available
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...
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
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
Importance Objective physical fitness measures, such as handgrip strength, are associated with physical, mental, and cognitive outcomes in the general population. Although people with mental illness experience reduced physical fitness and cognitive impairment, the association between muscular strength and cognition has not been examined to date. O...
Article
Full-text available
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...
Article
Full-text available
Social relationships are important to many aspects of animals’ lives, and an individual’s connections may change over the course of their lifespan. Currently, it is unclear whether social connectedness declines within individuals as they age, and what the underlying mechanisms might be, so the role of age in structuring animal social systems remain...
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
Full-text available
The emergence of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants has created a need to reassess the risk posed by increasing social contacts as countries resume pre-pandemic activities, particularly in the context of resuming large-scale events over multiple days. To examine how social contacts formed in different activity settings influences intervention...
Article
The ongoing global biodiversity crisis not only involves biological extinctions, but also the loss of experience and the gradual fading of cultural knowledge and collective memory of species. We refer to this phenomenon as 'societal extinction of species' and apply it to both extinct and extant taxa. We describe the underlying concepts as well as t...
Article
Full-text available
Within animal populations there is variation among individuals in their tendency to be social, where more sociable individuals associate more with other individuals. Consistent inter-individual variation in ‘sociability’ is considered one of the major axes of personality variation in animals along with aggressiveness, activity, exploration and bold...
Article
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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...
Preprint
Full-text available
The emergence of the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has created a need to reassess the risk posed by increasing social contacts as countries resume pre-pandemic activities, particularly in the context of resuming large-scale events over multiple days. To examine how social contacts formed in different activity settings influences int...
Article
Behavioral innovations may help animals cope with new environments, but how such behaviors start is hard to capture. A new study reports the innovation and transmission of a new foraging culture in an urban parrot.
Article
Objectives Data from high-income countries (HICs) indicate that sedentary behavior is negatively associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in young people. We examined associations between leisure-time sedentary behavior (LTSB) and MVPA in adolescents from 47 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Study design Cross-sectiona...
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...
Preprint
Full-text available
Social relationships are important to many aspects of animals' lives, and an individual's connectedness may change over the course of their lifespan. Currently, it is unclear whether social connectedness declines with age, and what the underlying mechanisms might be, so the role of age in structuring animal social systems remains unresolved. Here,...
Article
Full-text available
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
The producer‐scrounger game is a key element of foraging ecology in many systems. Producing and scrounging typically covary negatively, but partitioning this covariance into contributions of individual plasticity and consistent between individual differences is key to understanding population level consequences of foraging strategies. Furthermore,...
Article
Full-text available
The structure of wild animal social systems depends on a complex combination of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers. Population structuring and spatial behaviour are key determinants of individuals’ observed social behaviour, but quantifying these spatial components alongside multiple other drivers remains difficult due to data scarcity and analytical...
Article
Full-text available
The mammalian gut teems with microbes, yet how hosts acquire these symbionts remains poorly understood. Research in primates suggests that microbes can be picked up via social contact, but the role of social interactions in non-group-living species remains underexplored. Here, we use a passive tracking system to collect high resolution spatiotempor...
Article
Full-text available
In socially monogamous animals, including humans, pairs can meet and spend time together before they begin reproduction. However, the pre-breeding period has been challenging to study in natural populations, and thus remains largely unexplored. As such, our understanding of the benefits of mate familiarity is almost entirely limited to assessments...
Article
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The rapid uptake of the internet has provided a new platform for people to engage with almost all aspects of life. As such, it is currently crucial to investigate the relationship between the internet and cognition across contexts and the underlying neurobiological mechanisms driving this. We describe the current understanding of this relationship...
Preprint
Full-text available
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
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Case isolation and contact tracing can contribute to the control of COVID-19 outbreaks1,2. However, it remains unclear how real-world social networks could influence the effectiveness and efficiency of such approaches. To address this issue, we simulated control strategies for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a real-world social network generated from hi...
Article
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Social network analysis has achieved remarkable popularity in disease ecology, and is sometimes carried out without investigating spatial heterogeneity. Many investigations into sociality and disease may nevertheless be subject to cryptic spatial variation, so ignoring spatial processes can limit inference regarding disease dynamics. Disease analys...
Preprint
Full-text available
The mammalian gut teems with beneficial microbes, yet how hosts acquire these symbionts remains poorly understood. Research in primates suggests that microbes can be picked up via social contact, but the role of social interactions in non-group-living species remains unexplored. Here, we use a passive tracking system to collect high resolution spat...
Preprint
Full-text available
The structure of wild animal social systems depends on a complex combination of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers. Population structuring and spatial behaviour are key determinants of individuals’ observed social behaviour, but quantifying these spatial components alongside multiple other drivers remains difficult due to data scarcity and analytical...
Preprint
Full-text available
Case isolation and contact tracing can contribute to the control of COVID-19 outbreaks. However, it remains unclear how real-world networks could influence the effectiveness and efficiency of such approaches. To address this issue, we simulated control strategies for SARS-CoV-2 in a real-world social network generated from high resolution GPS data....
Article
Full-text available
Cognition arguably drives most behaviours in animals, but whether and why individuals in the wild vary consistently in their cognitive performance is scarcely known, especially under mixed-species scenarios. One reason for this is that quantifying the relative importance of individual, contextual, ecological and social factors remains a major chall...
Article
Full-text available
Digital data are accumulating at unprecedented rates. These contain a lot of information about the natural world, some of which can be used to answer key ecological questions. Here, we introduce iEcology (i.e., internet ecology), an emerging research approach that uses diverse online data sources and methods to generate insights about species distr...
Article
Full-text available
The spread of behaviours through animal social networks have often been considered as 'simple contagions'. However, research across other disciplines now provides substantial grounding for the 'complex contagion' of behaviours. The study of animal behaviour could benefit greatly from generally expanding to incorporate these new insights.
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Emerging evidence suggests that handgrip strength (a proxy for muscular fitness) is associated with better cognitive performance in people with major depressive disorder (MDD). The underlying processes are unclear, although hippocampal volume (HCV) reductions and white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) have been implicated. Therefore, we in...
Article
Full-text available
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...
Article
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The impact of the Internet across multiple aspects of modern society is clear. However, the influence that it may have on our brain structure and functioning remains a central topic of investigation. Here we draw on recent psychological, psychiatric and neuroimaging findings to examine several key hypotheses on how the Internet may be changing our...
Article
Background: Aims of this study were: (i) to examine relationships between free bus travel and wellbeing, and (ii) to assess the extent to which these associations can be explained by two key potential mediators: social isolation and physical activity. Methods: Data were from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (n = 5861). Linear regression mod...
Article
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A long-standing assumption in social behavior is that leadership incurs costs as well as benefits, and this tradeoff can result in diversified social roles in groups. The major cost of leadership in moving animal groups is assumed to be predation, with individuals leading from the front of groups being targeted more often by predators. Nevertheless...
Article
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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...
Article
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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
Full-text available
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
Full-text available
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
Background Handgrip strength may provide an easily-administered marker of cognitive functional status. However, further population-scale research examining relationships between grip strength and cognitive performance across multiple domains is needed. Additionally, relationships between grip strength and cognitive functioning in people with schizo...
Article
Full-text available
Have you ever wondered how animals might respond to losing a member of their group? Many human activities, like hunting or changing the environment animals live in, can cause the loss of individual animals. However, how this loss affects the remaining animals in a group is still widely unknown. We wanted to investigate this question, so we tracked...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous physical activity (PA) research in schizophrenia has relied largely upon self-report measures. However, the accuracy of this method is questionable. Obtaining accurate measurements, and determining what may influence PA levels in schizophrenia, is essential to understand physical inactivity in this population. This study examine...
Article
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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...
Article
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Nonlethal predator effects arise when individuals of a prey species adjust their behaviour due to the presence of predators. Non-lethal predator effects have been shown to affect social group structure and social behaviour as well as individual fitness of the prey. In this experimental study, we used model sparrowhawks to launch attacks on flocks o...
Article
Full-text available
Spatial structure underpins numerous population processes by determining the environment individuals' experience and which other individuals they encounter. Yet, how the social landscape influences individuals' spatial decisions remains largely unexplored. Wild great tits (Parus major) form freely moving winter flocks, but choose a single location...
Article
Full-text available
Animals regularly use information from others to shape their decisions. Yet, determining how changes in social structure affect information flow and social learning strategies has remained challenging. We manipulated the social structure of a large community of wild songbirds by controlling which individuals could feed together at automated feeding...
Article
The provision of wild birds with supplementary food has increased substantially over recent decades. While it is assumed that provisioning birds is beneficial, supplementary feeding can have detrimental ‘carry-over’ effects on reproductive traits. Due to difficulties in monitoring individual feeding behaviour, assessing how individuals within a pop...