Concordia University


Grant E Brown, PhD

Professor , Biology


PhD (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Research interests

Aquatic behavioural and chemical ecology

Teaching activities

Behavioural Ecology

Research activities

Prey use publicly available information about local habitat conditions to balance the conflicting demands of predator avoidance and other activities such as foraging and reproduction. However,environments undergo both short and long term changes resulting from a combination of natural and anthropogenic pressures, leading to increased uncertainty (the incomplete or imperfect information regarding local conditions) among prey animals. A major challenge for ecologists is to determine how prey can balance these conflicts when faced with ecological uncertainty. Given that the combined effects of global climate change, invasive species and anthropogenic habitat degradation are expected to dramatically alter environments, the need to explore the effects of ecological uncertainty is key. As a cognitive and behavioural ecologist, I examine ‘how aquatic prey use public information to adjust behavioural trade-offs to current environmental conditions’. Recently, I have focussed on neophobic predator recognition as an inducible response to elevated predation risk. However, mean predation risk is only one of many determinants of the ecological uncertainty experienced by prey.

My long term objective for the next five years is to address the key question of how ecological uncertainty shapes the expression of neophobic predator avoidance and foraging patterns of prey and what are the cognitive cost associated with neophobia. Undergraduate and graduate students interested in joining my research should contact me via email to discuss possible projects.

Selected publications

Brown, GE, Elvidge, CK, Ramnarine, I, Chivers, DP & Ferrari, MCO.  (2014) Personality and the response to predation risk: effects of information quantity and quality. Animal Cognition, 17:1063-1069. doi: 10.1007/s10071-014-0738-z 

Elvidge, CK & Brown GE.  (2014) Predation costs of impaired chemosensory risk assessment on acid-impacted juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 71: 757-762.

Brown, GE, Ferrari, MCO, Elvidge, CK, Jackson, CD & Chivers, DP. (2014) Background level of risk determines the intensity of predator neophobia in cichlids.  Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 68, 127-133. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1629-z.

Elvidge, CK, Macnaughton, CJ & Brown, GE. (2013).  Sensory complementation and behavioural compensation in acid impacted juvenile Atlantic salmon.  Oecologia 172, 69-78. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-12-2478-6.

Brown, GE, Ferrari, MCO, Elvidge, CK, Ramnarine, I & Chivers, DP. (2013). Phenotypically-plastic neophobia: a response to variable predation risk. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B. 280, 20122712.

Brown, GE, Ferrari, MCO & Chivers, DP.  (2013) Adaptive forgetting: why predator recognition training might not enhance post-stocking survival.  Fisheries, 38, 16-25.

Brown, GE, Ferrari, MCO, Malka, PH, Kayello, L, Fregeau, L & Chivers, DP. (2013). Retention of acquired predator recognition among shy versus bold juvenile rainbow trout. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 67, 43-51.

Brown, GE, Elvidge, CK, Ferrari, MCO & Chivers, DP. (2012). Understanding the importance of episodic acidification on fish predator-prey interactions: does weak acidification impair predator recognition?. Science of the Total Environment, 439, 62-66.

Brown, GE, Ferrari, MCO, Malka, PH, Russo, S, Tressider, M & Chivers, DP. (2011). Generalized predator and non-predator recognition in juvenile rainbow trout: learning what is and what is not a threat. Animal Behaviour, 81, 1249-1256.

Brown, GE, Ferrari, MCO, Malka, PH, Oligny, M-A, Romano, M & Chivers. DP. (2011). Growth rate and retention of chemically mediated predator recognition by juvenile rainbow trout: faster growing fish forget sooner.  Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65, 1267-1276.

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