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Robert Holbrook


I am a post-doctoral research assistant studying short-range navigation and orientation in fish. I am also a member of the Aquatic Navigation Group.

Research Interests

Navigation and Orientation

I am interested in how animals orient and navigate in their environment. While many studies have looked into how animals encode and recall horizontal information, few have looked at how the vertical component of their environment is encoded. Aquatic habitats are extreme versions of three dimensional environments as there is as much complexity, possibly more, in the vertical axis as there is in the horizontal, and fish have to be able to navigate successfully through this. How do fish manage to do this? I aim to see how fish learn and remember three dimensional environments and how they encode these in their representation of space. To do this I aim to test how the vertical and horizontal components of space are acquired, and then recalled and used to enable successful orientation over short distances.


Biomechanics of Fish Swimming

Fish live in an array of differing environments that require different types of performance to enable them to forage, capture prey, avoid predation and breed. Fish also have a wide variety of swimming types, bodyforms and fin morphologies. I am interested in how these influence the normal swimming performance of fish. To do this I record fish swimming in an environment and calculate their velocities, accelerations, turn rates and turn radii. For this part of my DPhil I am supervised by Adrian Thomas in the animal flight group.  


Before coming to Oxford I completed a BSc in Biological sciences (Environmental Biology) at the University of Leicester and an MSc in Ecology at the University of Wales, Bangor. I am also a member of the Society of Experimental Biology (SEB), the Association for the Study Animal Behaviour and the Fisheries Society of the British Iles (FSBI).