Carter LoftusDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist interested in how group-living animals navigate a complex social environment - from cooperative to agonistic or even parasitic relationships - to meet their daily needs and successfully reproduce. The goal of my research is to understand how the nature of these relationships influences how animals reach everyday decisions at the individual, the collective and the population level.
My research on decision-making in social animal groups started during my Bachelors, studying collective decision-making in honeybees and the conservation implications of these decisions. Currently a Ph.D. student at the University of California, guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, I now study the social impacts on decision-making in olive baboons, a model system for investigating the fitness impacts of groupmate relationships. Using movement as an analytically tractable proxy of decisions, I use GPS, inertial sensors, and video recordings, in conjunction with direct observations, to answer my research questions in wild baboon groups in Kenya. With the support of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, I use 3D laser scans to produce a physical reconstruction of visited sites. I combine these with thermal imagery recordings to unveil agitation in sleep sites at night and to explore the influence of the social environment on sleep in baboon groups.
I used to train Morgan show horses and I enjoy being on the lake here in Konstanz.