The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) is the main organisation promoting the study of animal behaviour and the ethical treatment and conservation of animals in the UK. Each year, ASAB awards one early career researcher with the Christopher Barnard Award, recognising outstanding contributions by a new investigator to our understanding of animal behaviour and to the animal behaviour community at large. The 2023 winner is University of Aberdeen Research Fellow David Fisher. David has received this award for his substantial contributions to the field of animal behaviour since he started his PhD in 2012, mostly focused on animal social behaviour, but also studying animal personality, response to environmental change, and how social networks influence the evolution of animal populations. Having started his research career with insects, David has also studied spiders, squirrels, dolphins, anemones and has also conducted reviews and simulation studies to explore our understanding of the importance of social behaviour for ecological and evolutionary processes. His work has been published in numerous internationally recognised journals and has been cited over 2000 times. David has also contributed significantly to the animal behaviour community by reviewing articles and grant submissions, by organising conferences and symposia, and by mentoring the next generation of animal behaviour researchers.
The award was presented to David at the recent ASAB Spring meeting in Bangor, Wales, where he gave a talk titled “Networking with beasts: Connecting with animal behaviour through edges and vertices” summarising some of his key findings, highlighting exciting areas for future research, and paying tribute to his mentors and supervisors whose guidance and support helped him get to where he is today. Regarding the award, David said “I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be recognised by the animal behaviour community in this way. ASAB is a society I really love; the Spring meeting in Aberystwyth in 2012 was one of my first conferences, and the list of past winners is truly humbling. I’m looking forward to continuing my line of study and working with other researchers to better understand the behaviour of animals and how behaviour helps make up the amazing biodiversity we see around us.”