A Life Sciences PhD student has been awarded the best young researcher prize by the German Ethological Society.

Tanja Kleinhappel attended the ninth topical meeting of the Society, entitled Functions and Mechanisms of Animal Behaviour from 6th to 8th February.

She was awarded the Eberhard Gwinner Prize – after the late German ornithologist and behavioural scientist – for providing the best presentation at the meeting.

Tanja said: “I was extremely honoured to be awarded this prize and I am delighted that I was able to catch people’s attention with my enthusiasm about my research.”

Tanja’s research focusses on social networks in groups of animals and she recently published a paper in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

The results of the study show that fish prefer to spend more time with individuals that eat the same foods.

The research, which looked at three-spined sticklebacks, suggests that diet-derived odour cues can influence group structure. However, this needs to be further investigated to examine their impact on chemical communication in fish.

Tanja K. Kleinhappel, Oliver H.P. Burman, Elizabeth A.John, Anna Wilkinson and Thomas W.Pike ‘Diet-mediated social networks in shoaling fish’ Behavioral Ecology (2014) doi: 10.1093/beheco/aru006 http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/02/04/beheco.aru006.full