Jesse Balaban-Feld, Teaching Assistant Professor.

Behavioral Ecology, Social Experience, Reproductive Choice, Predator-Prey Interactions

Ph.D., 2017, Saint Louis University



Specific Interests

My research generally focuses on how social animals gain information in order to make the most optimal behavioral decisions. Specifically, I examine how prior social experiences influence subsequent reproductive and predator avoidance decision-making. Concerning reproductive behavior, I have investigated how male Drosophila melanogaster learn to avoid female types that had previously rejected sexual advances and how the distribution of female types previously experienced can shape courtship and mate choice preferences. Most recently, I examined how refuge use and foraging decisions made by individuals within shoals of social fish under risk from an avian predator influence relative levels of mortality and food consumption. Furthermore, I have assessed how mixed prey groups containing individuals with different personality types (bold vs. shy) and levels of experience with predation (experienced vs. naïve) behave and respond to predator danger.

Currently, I am interested in examining how the composition of social groups (e.g., mixed groups of individuals containing different prior experiences, personalities, energetic states, etc.) shapes subsequent group and individual decision-making. For example, I am intrigued to find out how prior reproductive success or failure influences future risky behavior in the presence of a predator. Please note that I am currently doing research only with undergraduate students. 


Selected Publications

  • Balaban-Feld, J., Mitchell, W. A., Kotler, B. P., Vijayan, S., Tov Elem, L. T., Rosenzweig, M. L., and Abramsky, Z. (2019). Individual willingness to leave a safe refuge and the trade-off between food and safety: a test with social fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
  • Balaban-Feld, J., Mitchell, W. A., Kotler, B. P., Vijayan, S., Elem, L. T. T., and Abramsky, Z. (2019). State-dependent foraging among social fish in a risky environment. Oecologia.
  • Balaban-Feld, J., Mitchell, W. A., Kotler, B. P., Vijayan, S., Elem, L. T. T., and Abramsky, Z. (2018). Influence of predation risk on individual spatial positioning and willingness to leave a safe refuge in a social benthic fish. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
  • Balaban‐Feld, J., and Valone, T. J. (2018). Changes in courtship behaviour following rejection: the influence of female phenotype in Drosophila melanogaster. Ethology.
  • Balaban-Feld, J., and Valone, T. J. (2017). Prior information and social experience influence male reproductive decisions. Behavioral Ecology.