Paul Rose

Department: College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Discipline: Psychology
Research Centre/Unit: Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour

Project Summary

My PhD falls into three broad research areas;
1) an investigation into the social structure of flamingo flocks in captivity, 2) an investigation into enclosure usage, activity and foot health of captive flamingos,
3) a review of the effect of breeding decisions used within management of captive / conservation breeding programmes on individual reproductive success.

Overall, my research is attempting to understand the application of social networks analysis to zoo animal biology.

My research into the social organisation of flamingo is currently involving all species at WWT Slimbridge, comprising of flocks from all three genera of these birds; the lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor), the greater (Phoenicopterus rosesus), Chilean (P. chilensis) and the Caribbean flamingo (P. ruber) and the Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus) and James' flamingo (P. jamesi). Alongside of data collection at Slimbridge I am supervising MSc students who are collecting the same behavioural data at other UK collections. I am also collaborating with Bangor University to extend the number of zoos that flamingos can be observed in, as well as students who come through the BIAZA Research Group looking for zoo-related research projects.

Data are being collected on i) overall activity budgets for individuals in a flock to determine daily changes in behaviour, ii) partner-preference and nearest neighbour to determine patterns of non-random association with each flock, iii) which birds are flock leaders or are followers, which birds give or receive more aggressive interactions, and which birds initiate reproductively-driven / group courtship displays, and finally iv) the overall enclosure utilisation for each species to ascertain preferential areas and which types of behaviour predominantly occur in what specific area of the flamingo's enclosure. Photographs are taken of individual birds, as well as whole flocks to enable analysis of the behaviour that is being performed, and recognition of individuals via their DARVIC leg rings enables associations between birds to be measured.

In forthcoming years, it is hoped to involve multiple collections with this work so that data collection can take place at other institutions. Contact has already been made with WWT centres Martin Mere, Llanelli and Washington, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dublin Zoo, Chessington WOA Blackpool Zoo and Chester Zoo in the hope of involving their flocks of flamingos into this project. I have taken my PhD abroad and visited Zoo Berlin and the Tierpark Berlin to provide comparative flocks of all six species species in captivity; I hope to extend the number of European collections visited over time.

A novel use of past photographs is also enabling the strength of social bonds between flamingos in captivity to be studied. As flamingos are very long-lived birds and the current flocks at WWT Slimbridge have been in existence since the 1960s, photographic records can show associations between marked individual flamingos going back many years. 

I would also like to assess how to define "positive welfare" activity in captive flamingos, looking at (potentially) non-invasive measures of stress as well as the effects of flight restraint on bird behaviour and activity patterns.

Supervisory Team

My primary supervisor is Dr Darren Croft, based in CRAB at the University of Exeter.

My second supervisor is Dr Heidi Mitchell, who is based at Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire.

I also have extensive support and assistance from Ms Rebecca Lee at WWT Slimbridge.

Wider Research Interests

Overall, my wider research interests encompass the field of evidence-based zoo animal management. Investigating how changes to provision (husbandry, management protocols) can affect the behaviour and "value" (from a conservation and education perspective) of those species that are kept, as well as using the evidence that research brings to better understand how to provide for captive wild animals within our care.

Authored Publications/Reports

Paul Rose and Sarah Roffe (2013) A case study of Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) husbandry practice across ten zoological collections., Zoo Biology, 32 (3), 347-356

Paul Rose & Lorna Cameron (2012) Welfare integration into conservation biology: evaluation of enclosure suitability for endangered pheasants., Animal Welfare, 21 (1), 85

Paul Rose, Phil Tovey, Rebecca Lee and Claire McSweeney (July 2012) In the pink; behaviour, exhibit use and breeding success of lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre., 14th BIAZA Research Symposium

Paul Rose (February 2012) Investigations in the social behaviour of captive giraffe; what do the animals tell us about their life in the zoo?, 2nd International Association of Giraffe Care Professionals Conference

Paul Rose & Ryan Robert (2013) Evaluating the activity patterns and enclosure usage of a little-studied zoo species, the sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii), Journal of Zoo & Aquarium Research, 1, 14-19

Paul Rose (2012) Collaboration for conservation, Public Service Review, UK Science & Technology, 8

Paul Rose, Rebecca Lee & Darren Croft (July 2013) Using Social Network Analysis to understand zoo animal behaviour, 15th BIAZA Research Symposium

PE Rose, DP Croft, R Lee (2014) A review of captive flamingo (Phoenicopteridae) welfare: a synthesis of current knowledge and future directions, International Zoo Yearbook

PE Rose, DP Croft (2015) Evidence of directed interactions between individuals in captive flamingo flocks, Wildfowl

PE Rose, DP Croft (2015) The potential of Social Network Analysis as a tool for the management of zoo animals, Animal Welfare

Rose, P., Evans, C., Coffin, R., Miller, R., & Nash, S (2015) Using student-centred research to evidence-base exhibition of reptiles and amphibians: three species-specific case studies, Journal of Zoo & Aquarium Research

PE Rose, JE Brereton, L Gardner (2016) Developing flamingo husbandry practices through workshop communication, Journal of Zoo & Aquarium Research