Dr Christian Rutz

Reader in Biology

Harold Mitchell 
tel. 01334 463340
fax. 01334 463366


In a recent issue of Nature, we reported our discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow Corvus hawaiiensis. You can read the full paper for free here.






Following research as a Rhodes Scholar (DPhil), Junior Research Fellow (Postdoc) and BBSRC David Phillips Fellow (PI) at the University of Oxford, I transferred my group in 2012 to the University of St Andrews, to take up a Readership in the School of Biology. I have diverse research interests in the fields of animal ecology (behavioural ecology; population biology; predation dynamics), animal cognition (tool use; culture; social learning; comparative cognition), and conservation science (large-scale conservation schemes; policy making). My group’s principal research project is on the evolutionary, ecological and social contexts of tool-use behaviour in New Caledonian crows. I enjoy developing innovative, cutting-edge research methodologies, and led the teams that first deployed miniature video-cameras (2007, Science) and proximity loggers (2012, Current Biology) on wild birds – breakthroughs that were recognised with a string of awards and prizes (see below). I hold honorary appointments at three international research universities (New South Wales, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Oxford, UK), and was recently elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s ‘Young Academy of Scotland’.



December 2016: we have been invited to showcase our research on tool-using Hawaiian and New Caledonian crows at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, and are very grateful that the University of St Andrews has awarded us a Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund Award, to prepare our exhibit

10 August 2016: new paper out on 'Betty the crow' in Royal Society Open Science, with nice coverage in Nature, Science, New Scientist, The Guardian, and on BBC (and a great Altmetric score)

August 2016: Shoko was awarded a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research on New Caledonian crows

27 July 2016: joined eLife's Board of Reviewing Editors

18 November 2015: Shoko's and Barbara's paper on New Caledonian crows' hooked stick tools is out in BMC Biology

03 November 2015: James's big social network paper is out in Nature Communications

July 2015: joined group of scientific experts, to advise on work relating to the Bonn Convention, UN

20 May 2015: new paper on New Caledonian crows' safekeeping of foraging tools published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and covered as a Research Highlight in Nature.

2015: Guest Editor of Animal Biotelemetry (BMC), for the proceedings of the 5th International Bio-Logging Symposium; Associate Editor since September 2015

2013-2014: co-organised the 5th International Bio-Logging Symposium, Strasbourg, France

14-16 November 2014: crow research showcased as part of the 'Animal Cultures' exhibit at the Great British Bioscience Festival, to celebrate BBSRC's 20-year anniversary

02 October 2014: awarded the Hans Loehrl Prize of the Deutsche Ornithologen Gesellschaft (DO-G)

10 September 2014: awarded the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture of the British Science Association (delivered at the 2014 British Science Festival, Birmingham, UK)

05 March 2014: appointed Co-Director of the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences (IBANS)

30 October 2013: awarded the Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

07 October 2013: published a Theme Issue on Tool Use as Adaptation in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (guest-edited by D. Biro, M. Haslam and C. Rutz)



Rutz, C, Klump, BC, Komarczyk, L, Leighton, R, Kramer, J, Wischnewski, S, Sugasawa, S, Morrissey, MB, James, R, St Clair, J, Switzer, RA & Masuda, BM 2016, 'Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow' Nature, vol 537, no. 7620, pp. 403-407. DOI: 10.1038/nature19103
Rutz, C, Sugasawa, S, van der Wal, JEM, Klump, BC & St Clair, J 2016, 'Tool bending in New Caledonian crows' Royal Society Open Science, vol 3, no. 8, 160439. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160439
St Clair, J, Klump, BC, van der Wal, JEM, Sugasawa, S & Rutz, C 2016, 'Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows' use of hook-tool-making materials' Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol 118, no. 2, pp. 226-232. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12757
O’Donoghue, P & Rutz, C 2016, 'Real-time anti-poaching tags could help prevent imminent species extinctions' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol 53, no. 1, pp. 5-10. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12452
Troscianko, J & Rutz, C 2015, 'Activity profiles and hook-tool use of New Caledonian crows recorded by bird-borne video cameras' Biology Letters, vol 11, no. 12, 20150777. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0777
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