Profile

Dr Luke Rendell

Dr Luke Rendell
MASTS Reader in Biology



"The true biologist deals with life, with teeming boisterous life, and learns something from it, learns that the first rule of life is living"
John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez


ResearcherID: G-2594-2010 orcid.org/0000-0002-1121-9142

I am a Reader in Biology supported by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS). I am affiliated with the Scottish Ocean Institute, Sea Mammal Research Unit, the Centre for Biological Diversity, the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, and the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences.

I have broad research interests, largely centred around the evolution of learning, behaviour and communication, with a special focus on marine mammals.

Latest paper(s)
Nick A.R. Jones, Mike Webster, Christopher N. Templeton, Stefan Schuster, Luke Rendell (2018) Presence of an audience and consistent interindividual differences affect archerfish shooting behaviour. Animal Behaviour DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.04.024

In this study we investigated whether archerfish display any behavioural changes in response to the presence of an audience while using their specialized foraging tactic of spitting precisely aimed jets of water at prey targets. We found that in the presence of another fish, archerfish took longer to shoot, made more orientations (aiming events) per shot, and tended to be closer to the target at the time of shooting. Our results show that archerfish are sensitive to, and adjust their shooting behaviour in response to, the presence of an audience and highlight the importance of social context in this fish species.

Elena Miu, Ned Gulley, Kevin N. Laland & Luke Rendell (2018) Innovation and cumulative culture through tweaks and leaps in online programming contests. Nature Communications volume 9

The ability to build progressively on the achievements of earlier generations is central to human uniqueness, but experimental investigations of this cumulative cultural evolution lack real-world complexity. We studied the dynamics of cumulative culture using a large-scale data set from online collaborative programming competitions run over 14 years. Results showed that cumulative cultural evolution reduces technological diversity over time, as populations focus on refining high-performance solutions. While individual entries borrow from few sources, iterative copying allows populations to integrate ideas from many sources, demonstrating a new form of collective intelligence. Our results imply that maximising technological progress requires accepting high levels of failure.

Book
Our book, The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins is even available at Amazon! Hear it discussed on BBC Radio 4's "Start the Week". Listen to a podcast of a discussion between myself and author Phillip Hoare at the LSE Philosophy Forum here

Research
Sperm whale society and ecology
I have been studying the ecology, communication and societies of sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, showing how long lasting social groups use distinctive vocal dialects that appear to be culturally transmitted. Part of this work is my involvement in running the Balearics Sperm Whale Project and as a collaborator of the Dominica Sperm Whale Project.

Culture in whales and dolphins
In whales and dolphins we find examples of both complex communication and apparently widespread social learning, a simple form of culture. I am using statistical models to assess the evidence for social learning in wild cetaceans.

Evolutionary modelling
I also use evolutionary simulation models to understand how these processes like social learning might have evolved, and how they might be related to the evolution of other kinds of behaviour, such as cooperation and niche-construction.

Human social learning
I use experimental approaches to understand how we negotiate the trade-offs involved in deciding whether to use social information to make simple decisions, as a window into how we have evolved to make best use of our cultural inheritance.

East Coast Marine Mammal Acoustic Study (ECOMMAS)
We are deploying passive listening buoys along the Scottish coastline in collaboration with Marine Scotland Science to monitor the impact of coastal windfarm development and also to give insight into acoustic behaviour of marine mammals.

Science without borders!

An approach to academic life: 12 guidelines for survival

Alumni
Dr Charlotte Dunn finished her PhD "Insights into Blainville's Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) communication" in January 2015

Dr Thomas Morgan completed his PhD, co-supervised with Kevin Laland and titled "Experimental studies of human social learning and its evolution" in December 2013

Dr Laurel Fogarty completed her PhD, co-supervised with Kevin Laland and titled "From social learning to culture: Mathematical and computational models of cultural evolution" in June 2012

Dr Ricardo Antunes completed his PhD, co-supervised with Phil Hammond and Jonathan Gordon, and titled "Variation in sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) coda vocalizations and social structure in the North Atlantic Ocean" in March 2009


eXTReMe Tracker

source: symbiosis

Research Overview:

I have previously worked mostly on wild cetaceans, but now I am developing theoretical investigations of the evolution of social learning strategies, as well as getting involved in experimental studies of learning. I am primarily interested in the evolution of social learning, communication systems and culture, but maintain broader based interests in ecology, behaviour and conservation.

 

Recent publications


20  (of 87 published available) for ler4. (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details.

2018 (30/1)

(Chapter (peer-reviewed))
Cultural Transmission
Luke Edward Rendell 
2018 (13/6)
Nature Communications
vol.9 
(Article)
2018 (11)
Animal Behaviour
vol.145 pp.131-140
(Article)
2018 (7)
Animal Behaviour
vol.141 pp.95-103
(Article)
2018 (7)
Trends in Cognitive Sciences
vol.22 pp.651-665
(Review article)
Social learning strategies
Rachel Kendal, Neeltje Boogert, Luke Edward Rendell, Kevin Neville Laland, Michael Munro Webster, Patricia Jones 
Keywords: Asocial information, Associative learning theory, Behavioural gambit, Cumulative culture, Metacognition, Social informationQH301 Biology
2018 (9)
Biology Letters
vol.14 
(Article)
Tail walking in a bottlenose dolphin community
M. Bossley, A. Steiner, P. Brakes, J. Shrimpton, C. Foster, Luke Edward Rendell 
Keywords: Social learning, Cultural transmission, Cetacean, Bottlenose dolphinQH301 BiologyDAS
2018 (2)
Ecological Indicators
vol.85 pp.128-136
(Article)
The challenge of habitat modelling for threatened low density species using heterogeneous data
Ana Maria Canadas, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, M. Aissi, A. Arcangeli, M. Azzolin, A. B-Nagy, G Bearzi, I. Campana, C. Chicote, Cedric Cotte, R. Crosti, L David, A. Di Natale, A. Frantzis, P. Garcia, M. Gazo, R. Gutierrez-Xarxa, D. Holcer, S. Laran, G. Lauriano, T Lewis, A. Moulins, B. Mussi, G. Notarbartolo di Sciara, Simone Panigada, X. Pastor, E. Politi, M. Pulcini, J.A. Raga, Luke Edward Rendell, M. Rosso, P. Tepsich, J. Tomás, M. Tringali, Th. Roger 
Keywords: Cuvier’s beaked whales, Abundance, Distribution, Conservation, Density surface modelling, Correction factor, Mediterranean seaGC Oceanography, QH301 BiologyNDAS
2018
Music & Science
vol.1 
(Article)
Using agent-based models to understand the role of individuals in the song evolution of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Michael Mcloughlin, Ellen Clare Garland, Simon Ingram, Alexis Kirke, Michael J Noad, Luke Edward Rendell, Eduardo Miranda 
Keywords: Agent-based model, Humpback whale, Song, Song evolution, Vocal learningQH301 BiologyNDAS
2018 (6)
Zoology
vol.128 pp.1-15
(Article)
Whale and dolphin behavioural responses to dead conspecifics
Giovanni Bearzi, Dan Kerem, Nathan B. Furey, Robert L. Pitman, Luke Edward Rendell, Randall R. Reeves 
Keywords: Cetaceans, Epimeletic behaviour, Caregiving behaviour, Comparative thanatology, GrievingQL Zoology3rd-DAS
2017 (1)
Marine Mammal Science
vol.33 pp.356-364
(Article)
2017 (2)
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
vol.141 pp.900-907
(Article)
2017 (9)
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
vol.32 pp.625-626
(Book/Film/Article review)
Social Evolution and the collective brain
Kevin Neville Laland, Luke Edward Rendell 
Keywords: QH301 Biology
2017 (25/7)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
vol.114 pp.7822-7829
(Article)
2017 (31/7)
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
vol.142 pp.460-472
(Article)
The devil is in the detail
Ellen Clare Garland, Luke Edward Rendell, Matthew Lilley, M. Michael Poole, Jenny Allen, Michael J. Noad 
Keywords: Song, Sequence, Cultural evolution, Levenshtein distance, Humpback whaleGC Oceanography, QH301 Biology, QL ZoologyDAS
2016 (31/8)
pp.274-280
(Conference contribution)
Adapting a computational multi agent model for humpback whale song research for use as a tool for algorithmic composition
Michael Mcloughlin, Simon Ingram, Luke Edward Rendell, Alexis Kirke, Ellen Clare Garland, Michael Noad, Eduardo Miranda 
Keywords: QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science, QH301 Biology
2016 (10)
Royal Society Open Science
vol.3 
(Article)
2016
pp.37-74
(Chapter (peer-reviewed))

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