Profile: Kevin Abbott

Profile: Kevin Abbott


Kevin Abbott - Post Doctoral Fellow

Current Research

I study cognition from an evolutionary perspective. This generally involves asking two related questions: 1) how does natural selection shape the evolution of cognitive strategies of a focal species?, and 2) how do these evolved cognitive adaptations affect the evolution of species that interact with the focal species? In my research, I tend to develop models of the cognitive strategies that allow one species to maximise it fitness when interacting with another species, and then model how these adaptive cognitive strategies co-evolve with traits of the second species. For example, I have modeled how the cognitive strategies of species that are trying to detect the presence or absence of camouflaged predators or prey might co-evolve with behavioural strategies of the camouflaged species and with the colour of the species that the camouflaged species hides on. In collaboration with the Sherratt lab, I plan on developing novel adaptive cognition models, considering how they might co-evolve with a variety of species with defensive traits (e.g. camouflage or mimicry), and finding ways to empirically test these hypothetical co-evolutionary dynamics. 

Selected Publications

Abbott K. and Dukas R. (In Prep.) The evolution of background species: Theoretical predictions for different camouflage systems. In: Stevens, M. and Merilaita, S. (Eds.), Camouflage. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

Abbott K. (2010) Background evolution in camouflage systems: A predator-prey/pollinator-flower game. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 262:662–678

Abbott K. and Dukas R. (2009) Honeybees consider flower danger in their waggle dance. Animal Behaviour. 78: 633-635

Abbott K. (2006) Bumblebees avoid flowers containing evidence of past predation events. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 84: 1240-1247.

Dukas R., Clark C.W., and Abbott K. (2006) Courtship strategies of male insects: When is learning advantageous? Animal Behaviour. 72:1395-1404.