The focus of my research has mainly been on salticids from the Lake Victoria region of East Africa. One of these species, Evarcha culicivora, specializes at feeding indirectly on vertebrate blood by targeting blood-carrying mosquitoes as its preferred prey, whereas Portia africana specializes at preying on other spiders.
These prey specialist salticids have given us important insights into the study of animal cognition. Selective attention, planning, expectancy violation and numerical cognition have all been demonstrated by spiders, despite much bigger animals traditionally being the subjects when investigating these cognitive topics. By using miniature predators, we can gain a better understanding of what tiny brains –which would comfortably fit on pinheads – are capable of doing.
I have helped share these insights with people around the world through scientific publications, media publicity and writing for the general public, as well as through invited talks in Canada, USA, Slovenia, UK, Kenya and New Zealand. I have shared my recent experiences of a speaking tour around North America here and here. You can see my upcoming schedule on my News page. If you would like me to give a talk at your university or other institution, please get in touch.