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 Thomas Collins

Thomas Collins

Doctoral Researcher in Computer Sciences

 Environment and Sustainability Institute 


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK


I am following my scientific curiosity as a mature student interested in the world's future both biologically and socially. I now explore these aspects through multiple projects at the University of Exeter (2017-2021). Whilst at the university, I have gained skills in computer programming (R) and geographic information systems that have enabled me to explore, analyse, display, and communicate a range of studies using the scientific method (including wildlife diseases; insect ecology; conservation biology; population ecology; behavioural ecology; life-history evolution; and human behavioural ecology). My stay at the university has culminated in two dissertations that focussed particularly on cognitive ecology, animal movement, and sociality. Going forward, I am excited to contribute to discussions around human sociality and the conservation of environments, and particularly in an urban context. I am interested in the architecture of public green space and community projects. I have an increasing interest in human health and the well-being that humans derive from nature


Alongside my studies, I have completed various consultancy positions for research projects and research groups whilst at Exeter University (Penryn, Cornwall; 2017-2021): I have completed three projects with Professor Andy Russell (Chestnut-Crowned Babbler Research Project; 2017-2020); I have also been a member of the Socialis Research Group (2019-2021) working specifically within the Mongoose Research Project and the Termite Research Project – both under Professor Mike Cant and Doctor Faye Thompson. These projects required a range of duties and responsibilities including data manipulation, data input, animal husbandry, laboratory, and video coding. - I was a consultant researcher for the Newquay Orchards Community Project where I was required to deliver a proposal on the enabling of cross-communication between community social groups using a “green hub”. This project was created to alleviate social deprivation and poverty by incorporating ecological and conservation biological models into communities. - I started my career in gardening and land management where, for 7 years, I would co-run a thriving horticultural and landscaping business that held many long- and short-term projects and where I managed and employed a horticultural apprentice.

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Research interests

For my second dissertation (master’s-level; 2021), I delivered a desk-based and data-focused project on the spatial influences of intergroup conflict in banded mongoose. I became proficient at using continuous-time movement modelling (CTMM) in conjunction with large datasets of mongoose life-history data. I made home ranges of mongoose groups and analysed the locations of distinct behaviours within these home ranges. This allowed me to ultimately question whether there are within-group influences upon between-group movements in mongooses. I hope to publish this work in a journal soon. - For my first dissertation (degree-level; 2020), I delivered a field-based analysis that focussed on the cognitive ecology of herring gulls but whilst considering the important consequences for community relevance in terms of human-wildlife conflict in an increasingly urbanized world. The project was of such high standard that it was integrated with a peer-reviewed scientific publication (Journal of Animal Behaviour) and forms one part of a body of evidence being amassed on herring gull cognition that has received much media attention. - I have attended international and overseas field research and gained experience in the Scilly Isles (residential; 2019), the Azores archipelago (residential; 2020), and Hong Kong (non-residential; 2021). These field courses were often focused on marine-based ecosystems and required the flexibility of learning many new concepts. A highlight was my visit to Flores (Azorean Island and UNESCO designated biosphere). I added to discussions that centred around island conservation, island biogeography, invasive species, and the cultural significance of ecotourism. I undertook hands-on field-based projects working alongside the staff from the University of the Azores as well as local personnel who were directly affected by local conservation projects.

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Journal articles

Collins T, Di Clemente R, GutiĆ©rrez-Roig M, Botta F (2023). Spatiotemporal gender differences in urban vibrancy. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science Abstract.
Goumas M, Collins TR, Fordham L, Kelley LA, Boogert NJ (2020). Herring gull aversion to gaze in urban and rural human settlements. Animal Behaviour, 168, 83-88.

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