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Following a BSc in Zoology at the University of Bristol, I stayed on to complete a Masters of Research in Vision Science. In April 2010 I was awarded a University of Bristol Postgraduate Research Scholarship to study polarization sensitivity in damselfishes, to begin in October 2010. In the time between April and October 2010 I worked as a Research Associate investigating the use of polarization sensitivity for foraging in bumblebee Bombus terrestris In August 2014 I completed a PhD thesis focussed on the functional range of polarization sensitivity in the interactions of animals with their environment, including behavioural work on bumblebees and damselfishes. In September of 2014 I began a post-doctoral position with Dr Marie Dacke in Lund, investigating the use of polarized skylight for navigation by dung beetle Scarabaeus, with particular reference to how the quality of polarized skylight affects navigation.

My area of interest is the use of polarized light by animals to obtain information about their environment. In order to investigate the range of functions for which this information is used, I employ behavioural techniques as a measure of the different aspects of sensitivity. This has lead to the development of techniques for video tracking of animal movement, and polarization imaging— which allows us a glimpse of how polarization sensitive animals might see their world.

My current research uses the “waggle dances” of honeybees to investigate compass navigation. I am interested in better understanding how the honeybee’s “sky map” trades off flexibility against generalisation, especially when faced with more challenging conditions, as clouds, haze and extremes of solar elevation distort the sky’s polarization pattern.

Tocco C, Foster JJ, Venter N, Cowie B, Marlin D, Byrne M (2021)
Elevated atmospheric CO2 adversely affects dung beetle development: another potential driver of decline in insect numbers?
Glob. Change Biol. doi: 10.1111/gcb.15804

Foster JJ, Tocco C, Smolka J, Khaldy L, Baird E, Byrne M, Nilsson D-E & Dacke M (2021)
Light pollution forces a change in dung beetle orientation behaviour.
Curr. Biol. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.038

Olsson P, Johnsson RD, Foster JJ, Kirwan JD, Lind O & Kelber A (2020)
Chicken colour discrimination depends on background colour.
J. Exp. Biol. jeb.209429 doi: 10.1242/jeb.209429

Franzke M, Kraus C, Dreyer D, Pfeiffer K, Beetz MJ, Stöckl AL, Foster JJ, Warrant EJ & el Jundi B (2020)
Spatial orientation based on multiple visual cues in monarch butterflies.
J. Exp. Biol. jeb.223800 doi: 10.1242/jeb.223800

Dacke M, Bell A, Foster JJ, Baird E, Strube-Bloss M, Byrne MJ & el Jundi B (2019)
Multimodal cue integration in the dung beetle compass.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 116 (28) 14248-14253 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1904308116

Foster JJ, Kirwan JD, el Jundi B, Smolka J, Khaldy L, Baird E, Byrne MJ, Nilsson D-E, Johnsen S & Dacke M (2019)
Orienting to Polarized Light at Night—Matching Lunar Skylight to Performance in a Nocturnal Beetle.
J. Exp. Biol. 222, jeb.188532 doi: 10.1242/jeb.188532

Dahake A, Stöckl AL, Foster JJ, Sane SP, Kelber A (2018)
The roles of vision and antennal mechanoreception in hawkmoth flight control.
eLife 7:e37606 doi: 10.7554/eLife.37606

Wilby DW, Riches S, Daly IM, Bird A, Wheelright M & Foster JJ (2018)
Hermit Crabs (Pagurus bernhardus) Use Visual Contrast in Self-Assessment of Camouflage.
J. Exp. Biol. 221, 173831 doi: 10.1242/jeb.17383

Foster JJ, Temple SE, How MJ, Daly IM, Sharkey CR, Wilby D & Roberts NW (2018)
Polarisation Vision: Overcoming Challenges of Working with a Property of Light We Barely See.
Sci. Nat. 105(27) doi: 10.1007/s00114-018-1551-3

Kirwan JD, Bok MJ, Smolka J, Foster JJ, Hernández JC & Nilsson D-E (2018)
A Diadematid Urchin Uses Low Resolution Vision to Find Shelter and Deter Enemies.
J. Exp. Biol. 221, 176271 doi: 10.1242/jeb.176271

Foster JJ, Smolka J, Nilsson D-E & Dacke M (2018)
How Animals Follow the Stars.
Proc. R. Soc. B 285, 20172322 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2322

Foster J. J., El Jundi B., Smolka J., Khaldy L., Nilsson D.-E., Byrne M. J. & Dacke M. (2017)
Stellar Performance—Mechanisms Underlying Milky Way Orientation in Dung Beetles
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 372, 20160079

El Jundi B., Foster J. J., Khaldy L., Byrne M. J., Dacke M. & Baird E. (2016)
A Snapshot-Based Mechanism for Celestial Orientation.
Curr. Biol., 26(11) 1456–62

El Jundi B., Foster J. J., Byrne M. J., Baird E. & Dacke M. (2015)
Spectral Information as an Orientation Cue in Dung Beetles.
Biol. Lett., 11(11), 20150656

Foster J. J., Sharkey C. R., Gaworska A. V., Roberts N. W., Whitney H. M. & Partridge J. C. (2014)
Bumblebees Learn Polarization Patterns.
Curr. Biol., 24(12) 1415–20


  • –present
    Postdoctoral fellow in functional zoology, Lund University