University of St Andrews
 
 

Dr Luke Rendell
MASTS Lecturer in Biology

Harold Mitchell Building
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9TH
UK

Hi. I am a Lecturer in Biology supported by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS). I am affiliated with the Scottish Ocean Institute, Sea Mammal Research Unit, the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, and the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences. I have broad research interests, largely centred around the evolution of learning, behaviour and communication, with a special focus on marine mammals.

My Researcher ID profile:

Book:

Our new book, The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins is now available - even at Amazon!

Tournament

An important part of my post-doctoral work was the running of a computer tournament of social learning strategies. Click here to find out more. We are now running a second tournament, this time with 25,000 euros prize money available! Click here to find out more

Current projects

Sperm whale society and ecology
I have been studying the ecology, communication and societies of sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, showing how long lasting social groups use distinctive vocal dialects that appear to be culturally transmitted.

Culture in whales and dolphins
In whales and dolphins we find examples of both complex communication and apparently widespread social learning, a simple form of culture. I am using statistical models to assess the evidence for social learning in wild cetaceans.

Evolutionary modelling
I also use evolutionary simulation models to understand how these processes like social learning might have evolved, and how they might be related to the evolution of other kinds of behaviour, such as cooperation and niche-construction.

Human social learning
I use experimental approaches to understand how we negotiate the trade-offs involved in deciding whether to use social information to make simple decisions, as a window into how we have evolved to make best use of our cultural inheritance.

Scottish Acoustic Marine Mammal Observatory
We are deploying passive listening buoys along the Scottish coastline to monitor the impact of coastal windfarm development and also to give insight into acoustic behaviour of marine mammals.

Project opportunities:
I would encourage anyone interested in an MPhil or Phd in any of the areas listed above to get in touch with me to discuss projects and think about funding.


"The true biologist deals with life, with teeming boisterous life, and learns something from it, learns that the first rule of life is living"
John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez


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Publications

Carpinelli, E, Gauffier, P, Verborgh, P, Airoldi, S, David, L, Di-Méglio, N , Cañadas, A , Frantzis, A , Rendell, L , Lewis, T, Mussi, B, Pace, DS & De Stephanis, R 2014, ' Assessing sperm whale ( Physeter macrocephalus ) movements within the western Mediterranean Sea through photo-identification ' Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems , vol 24, no. S1, pp. 23-30.
Rendell, L , Simião, S, Brotons, JM, Airoldi, S, Fasano, D & Gannier, A 2014, ' Abundance and movements of sperm whales in the western Mediterranean basin ' Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems , vol 24, no. S1, pp. 31-40.
Buchan, SJ, Hucke-Gaete, R , Rendell, LE & Stafford, KM 2014, ' A new song recorded from blue whales in the Corcovado Gulf, Southern Chile, and an acoustic link to the Eastern Tropical Pacific ' Endangered Species Research , vol 23, no. 3, pp. 241-252.
Laland, KN & Rendell, LE 2013, ' Cultural memory ' Current Biology , vol 23, no. 17, pp. R736-R740.
Allen, J, Weinrich, M, Hoppitt, W & Rendell, LE 2013, ' Network-Based Diffusion Analysis Reveals Cultural Transmission of Lobtail Feeding in Humpback Whales ' Science , vol 340, no. 6131, pp. 485-488.
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