Meet the Wheatcroft Lab research team!

David Wheatcroft

Associate professor

I’m an Associate Professor at Stockholm University, broadly interested in avian communication from acoustic, behavioral, comparative, and neurogenomic perspectives. Check out some past and ongoing projects and send an email if you have any questions or ideas to discuss!

Fanny-Linn H. Kraft

Postdoc researcher (2020 – present)

I did my PhD at Deakin University, Australia, under the supervision of Prof. Kate Buchanan. My thesis focused on the intergenerational effects of developmental stress on avian song learning. I am interested in how environmental conditions can affect how cognitive skills develop. I also hope to investigate how such differences in learning ability can influence evolutionary processes such as sexual selection.

Samyuktha Rajan

PhD student (2021 – present)

I am broadly interested in understanding the evolution of birdsong as a complex, multifaceted signal. Previously, I completed my MSc as part of MEME (Erasmus Mundus Programme for Evolutionary biology) where I worked in two different directions: evolutionary physiology and avian acoustic communication. For my PhD, I will look at the interplay between innate and social processes on song learning and subsequently, its impact on macroevolutionary processes such as speciation. 

Mario Gallego-Abenza

Field assistant (2021 – present)

I am PhD candidate at the University of Vienna, where I investigate the social cognition of wild ravens in the Austrian Alps. I´ve been conducting fieldwork at different latitudes around the world, working with historically known study systems, such as Superb-fairy wrens, Darwin Finches, and Ficedula Flycatchers living in a sympatric zone. My personal interest in animal communication ranges from human beings to insects. In particular, the adaptation of acoustic signals in urban environments under anthropogenic noise pressure.

Lan Ma

PhD student (2022 – present)

I am generally interested in understanding the development of bird songs. Previously, I completed my MSc at Uppsala University where I studied extra-pair mating of collared flycatchers. For my PhD, I will look at early song response and how song response could be affected by environmental factors and parents’ behaviour.

Kim Anh Sander

Master student (2022 – present)

I am pursuing a master’s degree in ecology and biodiversity at Stockholm University. For my thesis, I will be exploring the links between habitat quality, resource availability and parental care, and the subsequent effects on early song responses in pied flycatchers. I am broadly interested in behaviour ecology and conservation biology, with a more particular interest in avian responses to climate change.

Previous staff and students

Simon de Selys

Master student (2022)

I did my master in biology of organism and ecology at the University of Brussels and I did my Master thesis on the influence of early developmental conditions and social interactions on song and associative learning in captive male pied flycatchers at Tovetorp under the supervision of David. I am mostly interested in ecology, vertebrate ethology and conservation biology.

Sofia Haley

Master student (2020 – 2021)

I am an animal ecology masters student at Lund University, and I am currently collecting data for my thesis on innate and learned preferences for song and environmental noises in developing juvenile pied flycatchers at Tovetorp (field station of SU) under David’s supervision. My main research interests include animal cognition, evolution, and bioacoustics.

Joana Fernandes

Field assistant (2021)

I did my masters in ecology and conservation at Uppsala University. My thesis project focused on the grazing impacts of white rhinos in savanna vegetation states and how this influenced albedo. Since 2015, I have had the chance to work as a field assistant on numerous projects all over the world, namely in Sweden, South Africa, and New Caledonia. I have worked with a diversity of systems, from big mammals to insects, but mostly with birds, in particular passerines. I am mostly interested in animal behaviour, cognition, and evolution.

Nina Bircher

Postdoc researcher (2020 – 2021)

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