2024 Keynote – Dora Biro

Dora Biro

Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester.

Dora Biro received her undergraduate and PhD degrees from the University of Oxford and subsequently held a JSPS postdoctoral research fellowship and a visiting professorship at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, Japan, before returning to Oxford as a Royal Society University Research Fellow and later Professor of Animal Behaviour. She is the recipient of a L’Oreal-UNESCO “For Women in Science” fellowship, with research interests centered on animal cognition and collective animal behavior, including navigation, tool use, culture, and collective decision-making.

To learn more about Professor Dora Biro and her research, please visit her website.

Eye in the sky: visually-guided navigation in birds

Saturday, May 18, 2024, 7:15 – 8:15 pm, Talk Room 1-2

Vision is critically important to many aspects of a bird’s life, from finding food to avoiding predators. Correspondingly, birds have evolved the largest eyes relative to body size in the Animal Kingdom, and avian vision benefits from a range of adaptations including tetrachromacy, dual foveas, wide fields of view, and high visual acuity. My research focuses on the role of visual landmarks in avian navigation through familiar landscapes: how do birds perceive and map space using visual information and how do flocks of birds combine their individually acquired knowledge of a complex visual landscape to arrive at directional decisions as a group? I explore these questions using biologging technologies that allow us to track free-flying birds’ travel paths (through on-board miniature GPS) as well as strategies for visually scanning the environment (through head-mounted inertial measurement units), as they navigate home from distant sites either solo or in groups of various sizes and compositions. With these data, we are able to experimentally address a range of questions related to basic processes of perception and cognition (learning and memory), as well as more complex collective outcomes such as collective problem-solving, conflict resolution, collective vigilance, the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, and the cultural accumulation of collective knowledge.