I am a behavioural ecologist intrigued by the profound variation in how different species specialise on resources. For my PhD at the University of St Andrews, I studied the foraging ecology of tool use in New Caledonian crows, under the supervision of Christian Rutz. Following my PhD, I held a researcher position at Sovon Dutch Centre of Field Ornithology, followed by a short postdoc on individual strategies in birds and humans, in collaboration with Dr Rose Thorogood at the University of Helsinki. I thoroughly enjoy fieldwork in remote locations, especially when taking pioneering steps towards making new discoveries about little-understood species. I also take great pleasure in working alongside the resident communities and in doing so incorporating their social values and the associated logistics of the local environment into the research plan. I joined the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology in March 2019, on a UCT Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.
I research the ecology and evolution of the remarkable mutualism between human honey-hunters and greater honeyguides. Among the remaining parts of Africa where this mutualism still exists, there is substantial geographical variation in the behaviour and calls honey-hunters use to attract honeyguides to lead them to bee nests. I am interested in mapping the mosaic of mutualism between honeyguides and humans, by investigating the variation in human honey-hunting cultures, and understanding how the birds must adjust and the underlying learning process involved. I employ an interdisciplinary approach to address my research questions, integrating ideas and methodologies from a variety of academic disciplines such as biology, anthropology, linguistics, as well as citizen science.
- van der Wal, J.E.M., Afan, A.I., Anyawire, M., Begg, C.M., Begg, K.S., Dabo, G.A., Gedi, I.I., Harris, J.A., Isack, H.A., Ibrahim, J.I., Jamie, G.A., Kamboe, W.-B.W., Kilawi, A.O., Kingston, A., Laltaika, E.A., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., M’manga, G.M., Muhammad, N.Z., Ngcamphalala, C.A., Nhlabatsi, S.O., Oleleteyo, T.T., Sanda, M., Tsamkxao, L., Wood, B.M., Spottiswoode, C.N., Cram, D.L. 2023 Do honey badgers and greater honeyguide birds cooperate to access bees’ nests? Ecological evidence and honey-hunter accounts. Journal of Zoology https://doi.org/10.1111/jzo.13093 Read abstract in English and Kiswahili here
- Cram, D.L., van der Wal, J.E.M., Uomini, N.T., Cantor, M., Afan, A.I., Attwood, M.C., Amphaeris, J., Balasani, F., Blair, C.J., Bronstein, J.L., Buanachique, I.O., Cuthill, R.R.T., Das, J., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Deb, A., Dixit, T., Dlamini, G.S., Dounias, E., Gedi, I.I., Gruber, M., Hoffman, L.S., Holzlehner, T., Isack, H.A., Laltaika, A.E., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., Lund, J., Machado, A.M.S., Mahadevan, L., Moreno, I.B., Nwaogu, C.J., Pereira, V.L., Pierotti, R., Rucunua, S.A., dos Santos, W.F., Serpa, N., Smith, B.D., Sridhar, H., Tolkova, I., Tun, T., Valle-Pereira, J.V.S., Wood, B.M., Wrangham, R.W. & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2022 The ecology and evolution of human-wildlife cooperation. People and Nature DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10369 Read abstract in English, Portuguese and Kiswahili here
- van der Wal, J.E.M., Spottiswoode, C.N. & Sugasawa, S., 2022 Correspondence: Opportunities and risks of publishing academic talks online. Nature Ecology & Evolution https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01755-6
- van der Wal, J.E.M., Spottiswoode, C.N., Uomini, N.T., Cantor, M., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Afan, A.I., Attwood, M.C., Amphaeris, J., Balasani, F., Begg, C.M., Blair, C.J., Bronstein, J.L., Buanachique, I.O., Cuthill, R.R.T., Das, J., Deb, A., Dixit, T., Dlamini, G.S., Dounias, E., Gedi, I.I., Gruber, M., Hoffman, L.S., Holzlehner, T., Isack, H.A., Laltaika, A.E., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., Lund, J., Machado, A.M.S., Mahadevan, L., Moreno, I.B., Nwaogu, C.J., Pereira, V.L., Pierotti, R., Rucunua, S.A., dos Santos, W.F., Serpa, N., Smith, B.D., Tolkova, I., Tun, T., Valle-Pereira, J.V.S., Wood, B.M., Wrangham, R.W. & Cram, D.L. 2022 Safeguarding human-wildlife cooperation. Conservation Letters e12886 Read abstract in English, Portuguese and Kiswahili here
- van der Wal, J.E.M., Gedi, I. & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2022 Awer honey-hunting culture with greater honeyguides in coastal Kenya. Frontiers in Conservation Science 2: 727479.
- van der Wal, J.E.M., Thorogood, R. & Horrocks, N.P.C. 2021 Collaboration enhances career progression in academic science, especially for female researchers. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 288: 20210219.
- St Clair, J., Klump, B.C., van der Wal, J.E.M., Sugasawa, S. & Rutz, C. 2016 Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows’ use of hook-tool-making materials. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 118: 226-232.
- Rutz, C., Sugasawa, S., van der Wal, J.E.M., Klump, B.C. & St Clair, J. 2016 Tool bending in New Caledonian crows. Royal Society Open Science 3: 160439.
- Klump, B.C., van der Wal, J.E.M, St Clair, J. & Rutz, C. 2015 Context-dependent ‘safekeeping’ of foraging tools in New Caledonian crows. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282: 20150278.
- van der Wal, J.E.M., Dorenbosch, M., Immers, A.K., Vidal Forteza, C., Geurts, J.J., Peeters, E.T., Koese, B. & Bakker, E.S. 2013 Invasive crayfish threaten the development of submerged macrophytes in lake restoration. PLoS One 8: e78579.