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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Manuela Bizzozzero

Research Interests

Manuela Bizzozzero


Understanding the importance of different habitats to animals is critical to predicting how they will respond to changes in their environment. To analyse the effect of the environment on individual space-use and social systems, mostly two factors are important: the availability of food and, differences in predation risk.
Generally, higher food availability and avoidance of predators are favourable. For my PhD, my main interest is to analyse the environmental component in the complex behaviour displayed by the bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia.


Academic Record

2014 B.Sc in Biology, University of Zürich, Switzerland

2017 M.Sc in Anthropology (Major) and Bioinformatics (Minor), University of Zürich, Switzerland. Master thesis on tool use and social homophily in male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Shark Bay.

Since 2019 PhD candidate, University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Research Bio

The social structure and space use of dolphins differ with varying food availability and predation risk. In Shark Bay, the seascape represents a mosaic of different habitat types encompassing seagrass beds and sandy patches in shallower waters and deep sandy channels. Male bottlenose dolphins display a complex social structure that varies with changing habitats. Furthermore, the dolphins are known for their habitat dependent, versatile foraging techniques, some of which include tool use (with sponges and shells).

For my PhD project, I will use remote sensing satellite data to characterize different habitat types, and environmental DNA to investigate how food availability changes across the seascape. This will allow her to investigate how differences in food availability affect the social structure and habitat use of bottlenose dolphins.


Marfurt, Svenja M; Allen, Simon J; Bizzozzero, Manuela R; Willems, Erik P; King, Stephanie L; Connor, Richard C; Kopps, Anna M; Wild, Sonja; Gerber, Livia; Wittwer, Samuel; Krützen, Michael (2022). Association patterns and community structure among female bottlenose dolphins: environmental, genetic and cultural factors. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 102(4):1373-1387.

Gerber, Livia; Connor, Richard C; King, Stephanie L; Allen, Simon J; Wittwer, Samuel; Bizzozzero, Manuela R; Friedman, Whitney R; Kalberer, Stephanie; Sherwin, William B; Wild, Sonja; Willems, Erik P; Krützen, Michael (2020). Affiliation history and age similarity predict alliance formation in adult male bottlenose dolphins. Behavioral Ecology, 31(2):361-370.

Bizzozzero, M R; Allen, S J; Gerber, L; Wild, S; King, S L; Connor, R C; Friedman, W R; Wittwer, S; Krützen, M (2019). Tool use and social homophily among male bottlenose dolphins. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 286(1904):20190898.

Cathomas, Flurin, Rene Fuertig, Hannes Sigrist, Gregory N. Newman, Vanessa Hoop, Manuela Bizzozzero, Andreas Mueller, Andreas Luippold, Angelo Ceci, Bastian Hengerer, Erich Seifritz, Adriano Fontana, Christopher R. Pryceet al., 2015. CD40-TNF activation in mice induces extended sickness behavior syndrome co-incident with but not dependent on activation of the kynurenine pathway.  Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 50, pp.125–140.