Animal Sociality

Our Research

Sociality, understood as the formation of either transient or permanent associations with members of their own or different species, is prevalent across a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate taxa. Whereas some features of social lives are unique to one species - or even one single population, and the frequency of occurrence and diversity of social behaviours vary greatly within and among taxonomic groups, all animals living in groups face the challenge of responding to their habitats and also navigating their social environment.

Our research aims to investigate the richness and dynamism of animals’ socio-emotional capacities in a diversity of animal species using a range of theoretical and methodological approaches. Our goal is to better understand the ecological, social and individual factors influencing individuals’ social behaviour and plasticity, which can in turn underpin advances in the welfare and management of both captive and wild animal populations.

Within the scope of animal sociality, we investigate two main areas:

  • Dynamic brain - how the brain and behaviour interact over both an individual’s lifetime and across generations
  • Social complexity

Prof Anna Wilkinson

  • Working animals, animal cognition

Prof Daniel Mills

  • Emotional basis to social relationships

Chloe India Wright

  • PhD student working on primate social systems

Tim Simon

  • PhD student working on behavioural and brain lateralization in dog emotionality

Claire Ricci Bonot

  • PhD student studying social buffering in horses​

LuLu Xu

  • PhD student working on emotional regulation in dogs