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Dr. Conner Philson

Dr. Conner Philson

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 Washington Singer 124

 

Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK

Overview

Through research, biological field stations, and science policy, I work to better understand and conserve our planet’s biodiversity and natural environments.

I am an evolutionary behavioural ecologist interested in the drivers, consequences, and evolution of social behaviour. My research centers around long-term research projects on free-living populations of mammals.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Dr. Lauren Brent in the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter. As part of the ERC funded FriendOrigins project, I study the drivers of social strcutre, multilevel selection on the social phenotype, and how individuals structure groups (and vice versa) in a variety of free-living non-human primates.

I received my Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UCLA in 2023. Studying in the Blumstein Lab, my dissertation was on the evolution of individual social position and group social structure with a multilevel selection perspective. I conducted this work in a wild, free-living population of yellow-bellied marmots studied annually since 1962 at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Colorado, USA.

I am also a principal investigator and Instructor at the RMBL where I am continuing my research on multilevel selection and evolution of marmot sociality, teaching Rocky Mountain Wildlife (an undergraduate field course), and serving on the RMBL Research Committee. I also serve on the Borad of Directors for the Orgnization of Biological Field Stations and am an Assistant Editor-in-Chief at the Journal of Science Policy and Goverance.

Qualifications

2023: Ph.D. – Ecology and Evolutionarily Biology – UCLA (Advisor: Dr. Daniel T. Blumstein)

2023: M.B.A. Certificate – University of California, San Diego

2019: B.S. – Biology – Radford University

Links

Research group links

Research

Research interests

I am broadly interested in the drivers, consequences, and evolution of social behaviour. My research leverages a multidisciplinary approach and a variety of statistical tools to ask questions 
​across taxa in ecology & evolutionary biology. My primary areas include:

Animal Behavior & Networks

  • What are the fitness consequences of individual social relationships and group social structure?
  • What drives variation in individual and group social traits?
  • How does individual behavior structure groups and in turn, how do group structures drive individual behaviors?

Evolution & Natural Selection

  • Why do animals live in groups?
  • How does natural and multilevel selection shape individual and group social behaviors in the wild?
  • How are individual and group social traits replicated?

Collaboration & Mentoring
Through collaboration with peers and mentoring undergraduates in the lab/field, I've worked on a variety of topics and questions:

  • Major evolutionary transitions & information
  • Risk assessment in giant clams
  • The social microbiome
  • Quantitative genetics of dispersal decisions
  • Leveraging emotions to promote environmentally friendly behavior

​Science Policy
​Leveraging both science for policy and policy for science, I have published a number of peer-reviewed policy memos, served as a science advisor to elected leaders in the United States, and served on the Board of Directors for the Organization of Biological Field Stations.

Publications

Key publications | Publications by category | Publications by year

Publications by category


Journal articles

Szulanski T, Philson C, Uchida K, Blumstein DT (In Press). Social security: Does social position influence flight initiation distance?. Behavioral Ecology, 35(1)
Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). Emergent social structure is typically not associated with survival in a facultatively social mammal. BIOLOGY LETTERS, 19(3). Author URL.
Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). Group social structure has limited impact on reproductive success in a wild mammal. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 34(1), 89-98. Author URL.
Blumstein DT, Sanchez M, Philson CS, Bliard L (2023). Is flight initiation distance associated with longer-term survival in yellow-bellied marmots,<i> Marmota</i><i> flaviventer?</i>. ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 202, 21-28. Author URL.
Barbee BE, Lin MKR, Min IA, Takenami AM, Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). Nutrient enrichment alters risk assessment in Giant clams. JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 319(2), 112-118. Author URL.
Pfau M, Degregori S, Johnson G, Tennenbaum SR, Barber PH, Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). The social microbiome: gut microbiome diversity and abundance are negatively associated with sociality in a wild mammal. ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE, 10(10). Author URL.
Philson CS, Todorov SM, Blumstein DT (2022). Marmot mass gain rates relate to their group's social structure. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 33(1), 115-125. Author URL.
Philson CS, Pelletier TA, Foltz SL, Davis JE (2022). Using Machine Learning to Identify Associations between the Environment, Occurrence, and Outcomes of Songbird Displacements at Supplemental Feeders. BIRDS, 3(3), 306-319. Author URL.
Wagner L, Guttman Z, Hebner Y, Philson CS (2021). A Proposal for FDA Oversight of Tear Gas. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 18(01). Abstract.
Robin AN, Denton KK, Horna Lowell ES, Dulay T, Ebrahimi S, Johnson GC, Mai D, O'Fallon S, Philson CS, Speck HP, et al (2021). Major Evolutionary Transitions and the Roles of Facilitation and Information in Ecosystem Transformations. FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 09 Author URL.
Philson CS, Wagner L, Nawathe R (2021). Mitigating California Wildfire Impact Through Zoning and Housing Policy. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 18(01). Abstract.
Philson C, Gray L, Pedroncelli L, Ota W (2021). Mitigating Climate Change’s Impact on Tick-Borne Zoonotic Disease Emergence. Journal of Science Policy & Governance Abstract.
Barr K, Goldberg A, Ndefru B, Philson CS, Ryznar E, Zweng R (2020). Water in Los Angeles: Rethinking the Current Strategy. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 17(02). Abstract.
Philson C, Ray A, Foltz S, Davis J (2018). Programmable Automated System for Songbird Ecobehavioral Research (PASSER): Using flexible computer-integrated feeders to conduct high resolution studies of environment-behavior dynamics in songbirds. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 8(24), 12522-12532. Author URL.

Publications by year


In Press

Szulanski T, Philson C, Uchida K, Blumstein DT (In Press). Social security: Does social position influence flight initiation distance?. Behavioral Ecology, 35(1)

2023

Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). Emergent social structure is typically not associated with survival in a facultatively social mammal. BIOLOGY LETTERS, 19(3). Author URL.
Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). Group social structure has limited impact on reproductive success in a wild mammal. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 34(1), 89-98. Author URL.
Blumstein DT, Sanchez M, Philson CS, Bliard L (2023). Is flight initiation distance associated with longer-term survival in yellow-bellied marmots,<i> Marmota</i><i> flaviventer?</i>. ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 202, 21-28. Author URL.
Barbee BE, Lin MKR, Min IA, Takenami AM, Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). Nutrient enrichment alters risk assessment in Giant clams. JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 319(2), 112-118. Author URL.
Pfau M, Degregori S, Johnson G, Tennenbaum SR, Barber PH, Philson CS, Blumstein DT (2023). The social microbiome: gut microbiome diversity and abundance are negatively associated with sociality in a wild mammal. ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE, 10(10). Author URL.

2022

Philson CS, Todorov SM, Blumstein DT (2022). Marmot mass gain rates relate to their group's social structure. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 33(1), 115-125. Author URL.
Philson CS, Pelletier TA, Foltz SL, Davis JE (2022). Using Machine Learning to Identify Associations between the Environment, Occurrence, and Outcomes of Songbird Displacements at Supplemental Feeders. BIRDS, 3(3), 306-319. Author URL.

2021

Wagner L, Guttman Z, Hebner Y, Philson CS (2021). A Proposal for FDA Oversight of Tear Gas. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 18(01). Abstract.
Robin AN, Denton KK, Horna Lowell ES, Dulay T, Ebrahimi S, Johnson GC, Mai D, O'Fallon S, Philson CS, Speck HP, et al (2021). Major Evolutionary Transitions and the Roles of Facilitation and Information in Ecosystem Transformations. FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 09 Author URL.
Philson CS, Wagner L, Nawathe R (2021). Mitigating California Wildfire Impact Through Zoning and Housing Policy. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 18(01). Abstract.
Philson C, Gray L, Pedroncelli L, Ota W (2021). Mitigating Climate Change’s Impact on Tick-Borne Zoonotic Disease Emergence. Journal of Science Policy & Governance Abstract.

2020

Barr K, Goldberg A, Ndefru B, Philson CS, Ryznar E, Zweng R (2020). Water in Los Angeles: Rethinking the Current Strategy. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 17(02). Abstract.

2018

Philson C, Ray A, Foltz S, Davis J (2018). Programmable Automated System for Songbird Ecobehavioral Research (PASSER): Using flexible computer-integrated feeders to conduct high resolution studies of environment-behavior dynamics in songbirds. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 8(24), 12522-12532. Author URL.

Conner_Philson Details from cache as at 2024-02-22 13:55:43

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Teaching

I am the Instructor of Record for Rocky Mountain Wildlifean undergraduate summer field course, at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL).

Supervision / Group

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