My doctoral project focuses on individuality in behavioural ecology. By looking at what research on individuality is about and how behavioural ecologists talk about individuality, I develop a practice-based account of the concept and its application in concrete research contexts.
In the process I cover topics from epistemology and metaphysics, including individualized measurement, causal complexity, explanation, uniqueness, identity, and persistence. I also make use of empirical material that I gathered from questionnaires, interviews and participatory research with behavioural ecologists.
In the end, I plan to show how the idea that biological individuals are unique and persisting informs biologists’ research into individual differences like animal personalities and individual ecological specialization.
The project is part of the collaborative research centre SFB-TRR212 "A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction". In addition to the thesis on individuality, I am working with Professor Marie I. Kaiser on the nature of biological individuality and individualization, the status of individualized ecological niches, and the individual-level mechanisms of niche choice, construction and conformance.