Current Research

Cognition research studies the mental processes underpinning behaviour. By studying cognition in wild animals, we can investigate how cognition might evolve and how it helps animals respond to the challenges that they face in their daily lives.

Our current research investigates the behaviour and cognitive abilities of wild North Island robins/toutouwai (Petroica longipes) and kākā (Nestor meridionalis) at Zealandia Sanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand. Both species are endemic to New Zealand and evolved without mammalian predators such as rats, stoats and cats. As a result, they are bold, curious and pretty fearless – making them ideal volunteers for cognition research in the wild.

This research is supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand.


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