Jessica Vitale

Supervisor: Tom Reader

Jessica joined the Animal Behaviour and Ecology research group in November 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Brandeis University (USA), and has a wide range of research experience studying animal behaviour within several ecosystems. 

Research Interests

Jessica's PhD research focuses on the role of spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) within the large predator guild in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Field research is conducted in association with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust ( with whom Jessica previously worked as a research assistant in 2012. The aim of this research is to understand how spotted hyaenas respond to environmental cues of heterospecific competitors, and what factors influence interspecific interactions over kills. Data collection will also provide important information on the population demographics and social networking of hyaenas within this ecosystem. Her research will utilize a combination of remote data collection, natural observations, and acoustic and olfactory experiments. 

This work is funded by the University of Nottingham, the Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund (Roger Williams Park Zoo), the Cleveland Zoological Society/Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the National Geographic Society.