Dr Alicia Burns

Postdoctoral Research Associate
School of Life and Environmental Sciences

A08 - Heydon-Laurence Building
The University of Sydney


Biographical details

I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney in 2017 and am currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Animal Behaviour Lab, under Ashley Ward. I divide my time between the University and Taronga Conservation Society Australia, where I use my background in animal behaviour to inform captive animal management, conservation programs, and large-scale ecological research projects.

Research interests

My research spans from basic behavioural biology to wildlife conservation and welfare. I'm interested in how individual variation in animals affects group-level functionality and collective behaviour, and how animal groups mediate the competing interests of individual members. I use various species as model systems, including Antarctic krill,coral reef fish, brush turkeys, and others, and a mixture of fine-scale behavioural tracking, field and lab-based behavioural observation, and mathematical modelling.The aim of this research is to ultimately understand the mechanisms driving social organisation,and to determine what makes some groups more 'successful' than others in the face of changing social and asocial environments.

Current research students

Project title Research student
Urban Habitat Use and Ecological Effects of the Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) Matthew HALL

Current projects

Current projects:

  • Collective movement and consensus decisions in fish shoals
  • Social behaviour of free-ranging reef fish
  • Assessing the ecological role of brush turkeys in urban Sydney
  • Factors impacting reintroduction success in two endangered Australian bird species

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Ward, A., Schaerf, T., Burns, A., Lizier, J., Crosato, E., Prokopenko, M., Webster, M. (2018). Cohesion, order and information flow in the collective motion of mixed-species shoals. Royal Society Open Science, 5(12), 1-14. [More Information]
  • Hall, B., Melfi, V., Burns, A., McGill, D., Doyle, R. (2018). Curious creatures: A multi-taxa investigation of responses to novelty in a zoo environment. PeerJ, 6, 1-19. [More Information]
  • Burns, A., Schaerf, T., Ward, A. (2017). Behavioural consistency and group conformity in humbug damselfish. Behaviour, 154(13-15), 1343-1359. [More Information]
  • Burns, A., Herbert-Read, J., Morrell, L., Ward, A. (2012). Consistency of leadership in shoals of mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in novel and in familiar environments. PloS One, 7(5), 1-6. [More Information]

2018

  • Ward, A., Schaerf, T., Burns, A., Lizier, J., Crosato, E., Prokopenko, M., Webster, M. (2018). Cohesion, order and information flow in the collective motion of mixed-species shoals. Royal Society Open Science, 5(12), 1-14. [More Information]
  • Hall, B., Melfi, V., Burns, A., McGill, D., Doyle, R. (2018). Curious creatures: A multi-taxa investigation of responses to novelty in a zoo environment. PeerJ, 6, 1-19. [More Information]

2017

  • Burns, A., Schaerf, T., Ward, A. (2017). Behavioural consistency and group conformity in humbug damselfish. Behaviour, 154(13-15), 1343-1359. [More Information]

2012

  • Burns, A., Herbert-Read, J., Morrell, L., Ward, A. (2012). Consistency of leadership in shoals of mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in novel and in familiar environments. PloS One, 7(5), 1-6. [More Information]

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