Dr Thomas Hesselberg
Department of Zoology
University of Oxford
South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS
Animal Behaviour, Arachnology, Behavioural Ecology, Biomimetics, Comparative Biomechanics, Comparative Physiology, Invertebrate Zoology, Neuro-ethology
My research focuses on how behaviour in invertebrates, primarily orb spiders and their webs, is shaped by internal physiological and external environmental factors. In particular, I am interested in how behaviour in general and behavioural plasticity in particular has evolved to cope with the constraints imposed by a relatively limited brain capacity and with the biomechanical constraints imposed by morphological and external physical factors as well as silk material properties. The goal is to increase our basic understanding of how small-brained animals use simple decision-making rules to perform complex behaviours. In addition to its intrinsic biological interest, this line of research is of potential interest to designers of biologically inspired robots and other biomimetic technologies.