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 Philippa Brakes

Philippa Brakes

Honorary Lecturer



Having worked in the environmental NGO sector for 22 years, I am interested in the interface between science and policy. Particular focus is examining population-level effects of individual behaviour, social interactions and social transmission.

Broad research specialisms:

Examining the implications of culture and other forms of social complexity for conservation management of mammals, including investigating the potential role of individuals that act as repositories of social knowledge. Investigating the importance of maintaining phenotypic as well as genotypic diversity for conservation, with an emphasis on cetaceans.


BSc (Hons) Marine Biology,
MSc Biological Research Methods


Research projects

Project Title:  Social learning, animal culture and conservation management

Dr Sasha Dall and Prof Stuart Townley

Funding Body:
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (

Project Description:
Sociality has costs and benefits, some of which may be important to conservation efforts. Using demographic modelling techniques, this project hopes to investigate the relationship between the behaviour of individuals or social units and the population-level consequences of the spread (or inhibition) of certain behaviours, identifying elements that may inform conservation management.


Brakes, P. & Simmonds, M.P (Eds) (2011) Whales and Dolphins: cognition, culture, conservation and human perceptions,  Earthscan, London

Butterworth, A., Brakes, P., Vail, S.C. & Reiss, D. (2013). A Veterinary and Behavioural Analysis of Dolphin Killing Methods Currently Used in the "Drive Hunt" in Taiji, Japan. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 16 (2) 

Altmetric score 1450

Brakes, P. (2014) Social Complexity, Culture and Modern Conservation Efforts, presentation to the Convention on Migratory Species Scientific Council Workshop on the Conservation Implications of Cetacean Culture

Brakes, P. (2014) Welcome to the club, New Scientist, 15th Dec 2014, New Scientist link

Brakes P and Dall SRX (2016) Marine Mammal Behaviour: A Review of Conservation Implications Front. Mar. Sci., 20 June 2016

Brakes, P. (2017) Social Change in Cetacean Populations Resulting from Human Influences, In: Marine Mammal Welfare: Human Induced Change in the Marine Environment and its Impacts on Marine Mammal Welfare, Butterworth, A. (ed),  volume 17 of the series Animal Welfare, Springer

Research networks

CMS Expert Group on Animal Culture (Chair)


Supervision / Group

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