Tim Guilford

Professor of Animal Behaviour

Tutorial Fellow in Zoology, Merton College


Research Interests

Although I still maintain an interest in the evolution of animal signals, especially warning signals, which was the subject of my early research, I now concentrate on trying to unravel the mechanisms by which animals map the environments through which they travel. What cues do birds use to navigate home across familiar areas? What do their maps look like? How versatile is the spatial knowledge they store? The questions range from cognitive to ecological, homing pigeons are the principal model, and the techniques involve field experiments using miniature GPS loggers, on-board cameras, and analytical approaches borrowed from computational engineering. Most recently I have been extending my research groupís work to trying to understand how long distance wandering seabirds (many of which are of vulnerable conservation status) migrate, map and navigate across the open oceans.

Additional Information

I have a strong interest in promoting the public understanding of biological science through TV and radio.



Email: tim.guilford@zoo.ox.ac.uk



Selected Publications

  • Shoji, A., Aris-Brosou, S., Fayet, A., Padget, O., Perrins, C., & Guilford, T.  (2015).  “Dual foraging and pair-co-ordination during chick provisioning by Manx shearwaters: empirical evidence supported by a simple model.” Journal of Experimental Biology, 218: 2116-2123. doi:10.1242/jeb.120626

  • Guilford, T. & Taylor, G. (2014) “The sun compass revisited.” Animal Behaviour, 97:135-143

  • Guilford, T. & Biro, D.  (2014). “Route following and the pigeon’s familiar area map.”  Journal of Experimental Biology, 271:169-179. DOI:10.1242/jeb.092908

  • Freeman, R., Dean, B., Kirk, H., Leonard, K., Phillips, R. A., Perrins, C. M. & Guilford, T.  (2013).  “Predictive ethoinformatics reveals the complex migratory behaviour of a pelagic seabird.” J. Roy Soc. Interface, 10 (84). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2013.0279

  • Guilford, T., Wynn, R., McMinn, M., Rodriguez, A., Fayet, A., Maurice, L., Jones, A. & Meier, R. (2012)  “Geolocators reveal migration and pre-breeding behaviour of the critically endangered Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus.”  PLoS ONE 7(3): e33753. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033753

  • Guilford, T., Meade, J., Willis, J., Phillips, R. A., Boyle, D., Roberts, S., Collett, M., Freeman, R., & Perrins, C. M. (2009) “Migration and stopover in a small pelagic seabird, the Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus: insights from machine learning”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  276:1215-1223

  • Biro, D., Freeman, R., Meade, J. Roberts, S. J, & Guilford, T. (2007) “Pigeons combine compass and landmark guidance in familiar route navigation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104:7471-7476.

  • Guilford, T. C. & M. S. Dawkins. (1991) "Receiver psychology and the evolution of animal signals." Animal Behaviour, 42: 1-14.