Early Career Spotlight with Thomas Oudman

In today’s early career spotlight, we talked to Thomas Oudman, visiting scholar at the Laland Lab, University of St. Andrews.


Two of his papers just came out:



Animal learning as a source of developmental bias.
[download PDF]
Laland KN, Toyokawa W, Oudman T. 2019. Evolution & Development e12311.


Lynn: tell us a bit about yourself!


Thomas: My name is Thomas Oudman, I’m a visiting scholar from the Netherlands, spending two years in Kevin Laland’s group at the University of St Andrews.  I’m not officially in the EES project, but I received a personal grant from the Netherlands Science Organisation to join the EES research that fascinates me.  After my PhD on shorebird behaviour I have been working more generally on bird migratory behaviour, and I became fascinated by their ability to adjust to environmental change by individual and social learning.


Lynn: what is your latest publication about? 


We just published a paper in Global Change Biology, showing that geese can individually adjust their spring migration routes to changing conditions.  Further social learning enables the population to rapidly adjust to environmental change.  Together with Kevin Laland I’m continuing on this research, building simulation models to test which of several learning mechanisms these geese are likely to use. Also just recently, Kevin, Wataru Toyokawa and I published a paper outlining the direct and evolutionary effect of learning on development.


Lynn: can you recommend work from the EES research program?
I’m a fan of the work on Dung Beetles by Daniel Schwab and others in Armin Mozcek’s group. It really fascinates me how maternal choices and larval behaviour during development have downstream consequences on development itself. Nature must be full of it, but their experimental way to find hard evidence is so neat! I just saw some dung beetles last weekend when hiking (not their study species).  Fantastic to know such things about them! It only makes them even more wonderful.


Lynn: Thank you, Thomas, for sharing these papers and insights!


Check out Thomas Oudman’s personal website: https://www.thomasoudman.com/