Principal Investigator

Prof Christian Rutz

Reader in Biology

I have diverse research interests in the fields of animal ecology (behavioural ecology; population biology; predation dynamics), animal cognition (tool use; culture; social learning; comparative cognition), and conservation science (large-scale conservation schemes; policy making).

My group’s principal research project is on the evolutionary, ecological and social contexts of tool-use behaviour in New Caledonian crows and Hawaiian crows. I enjoy developing innovative, cutting-edge research methodologies, and led the teams that first deployed miniature video-cameras and proximity loggers on wild birds – breakthroughs that were recognised with a string of awards and prizes.


Dr Shoko Sugasawa

I am a JSPS postdoctoral research fellow in Rutz group. My research interests encompass various topics in the ecology and evolution of animal behaviour. Currently I am investigating hook tool making and using behaviour in New Caledonian crows with the aim to examine the interaction between the crows’ behaviour and the morphology of the tools.

Dr Barbara Klump

I have a broad interest in ecology and social behaviour and am currently working with both the New Caledonian and the Hawaiian crow. In my research, I am using a range of methodological approaches (including detailed field observations of wild, free-ranging subjects, and controlled experiments with birds in temporary captivity) to improve our understanding of the species’ tool-oriented behaviour. Specifically, I hope to shed fresh light on the ecological and social context of tool use.

PhD students

Jessica van der Wal

I have a keen interest in exploring the (foraging) ecology of tool use in New Caledonian crows. I started my PhD in August 2013 under the supervision of Dr Christian Rutz, on a scholarship funded by the School of Biology and the 600th Anniversary of St Andrews Fund. In 2012 I graduated cum laude in Ecology from Wageningen University and Research centre in the Netherlands. My master thesis explored the social network structure of wild juvenile Hihi Notiomystis cincta, a rare endemic bird from New Zealand, supervised by Prof. Marc Naguib (Wageningen UR) and Dr Rose Thorogood (Cambridge University).

Will Schneider

My PhD work focusses on using image processing techniques to investigate the evolution of social behaviour in crickets. This work is part of a collaboration between Christian Rutz and Nathan Bailey. I am interested in using my engineering background to build custom tools to solve weird problems.


Axel Wiberg