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Grant E Brown, PhD

Professor , Biology

Grant E Brown, PhD
Office: L-SP 457-02 
Richard J. Renaud Science Complex,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4020
Website(s): Brown Lab


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

Feyten LEA*, Demers EEM*, Ramnarine IW, Chivers DP, Ferrari MCO, Brown GE. (2019). Who’s where: Ecological uncertainty shapes neophobic predator avoidance in Trinidadian guppies.  Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 73: 70.

Goldman JA*, Singh A*, Demers EEM*, Feyten LEA*, Brown GE. (2019). Does donor group size matter? The response of Trinidadian guppies and Convict cichlids disturbance cues from conspecific and heterospecific donors. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 97: 319-325. Editor’s Choice

Feyten LEA*, Demers EEM*, Ramnarine IW, Brown GE. (2019). Predation risk assessment based uncertain information: interacting effects of known and unknown cues. Current Zoology 65,75-76. ArticleID: zoy083,

Chuard PJC*, Brown GE & Grant JWA. (2018). Competition for food in two populations of wild-caught fish. Current Zoology 64: 615-622.

Brown GE, Chuard PJC*, Demers, EEM*, Ramnarine IW, Chivers DP, Ferrari MCO. (2018). Personality and the retention of neophobic predator avoidance in wild caught Trinidadian guppies. Behaviour 155: 265-278.

Feyten LEA, Brown GE (2018) Ecological uncertainty impacts vigilance as amarker of fear. Animal Sentience 15(7).

Ferrari MCO, Brown GE,  Chivers DP(2018) Understanding the effect of uncertainty on the development of neophobic antipredator phenotypes. Animal Behaviour136: 101-106.

Imre I, DiRocco RT*, McClure H,Johnson NS, Brown GE (2017) Migratory-stage sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus stop responding to conspecific damage-released alarm cues after 4hours of continuous exposure in laboratory conditions. Journal of Fish Biology 90:1297-1304.

DiRocco RT*, Johnson NS, Brege L, Imre I, Brown GE (2016). Sea lamprey avoid areas scented with conspecific tissue extract in Michigan streams.  Fisheries Management and Ecology. 23: 548-560.

Chivers DP, Mitchell MD, Lucon-Xiccato T, Brown GE, Ferrari MCO. (2016). Does background risk influence learning and generalization of predators? Animal Behaviour 121: 185-189.

Brown GE, Jackson CD*, Joyce BJ*, Chivers DP, Ferrari MCO. (2016). Risk-induced neophobia: does sensory modality matter? Animal Cognition 19: 1143-1150.

Joyce BJ*, Demers EE*, Ferrari MCO, Chivers DP, Brown GE. (2016). Background risk and acquired predator recognition learning in convict cichlids: does risk allocation constrain learning? Ethology122: 841-849.

Elvidge CK*, Chuard PJ-C*, Brown GE. (2016). Local predation risk shapes exploration and foraging patterns in Trinidadian guppies. Current Zoology 62:457-462.

Jordbro EJ, DiRocco RT*, Imre I, Johnson NS, Brown GE. (2016). White sucker (Catostomus commersonii) respond to conspecific and sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) alarm cues but not potential predator cues. Journal of Great Lakes Research 767: 279-287.

Katwaroo-Andersen J*, Elvidge CK*, Ramnarine IW, Brown GE. (2016). Interactive effects of reproductive assets and ambient predation risk on the threat-sensitive decisions of Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Current Zoology 62: 221-226.

Chuard PJ-C*, Brown GE, Grant JWA. (2016). Mating competition in male and female Trinidadian guppies, Poecilia reticulata: effects of OSR and chronic predation risk. Behavioural Processes 129:1-10.

Barnett M, Imre I, Wagner CM, DiRocco RT*, Johnson NS, BrownGE (2016). Evaluating potential artefacts of photo-reversal on behavioral studies with nocturnal invasive sea lamprey. Canadian Journal of Zoology 94:405-410.

Joyce BJ*, Demers EE*, Chivers DP, Ferrari MCO, Brown GE. (2016).  Risk induced neophobia is constrained by ontogeny in juvenile convict cichlids. Animal Behaviour 114:37-43.

Di Rocco RT*, Imre I, Johnson NS, Brown GE. (2016). Behavioural response of adult sea lamprey (Petromyzonmarinus) to predator and conspecific alarm cues: evidence of additive effects. Hydrobiologica 767: 279-282.


Full publication list

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