Dr Josh Firth

Dr Josh Firth


Name: Dr Josh Firth
Position: BBSRC Discovery Fellow
Email: joshua.firth@zoo.ox.ac.uk

I graduated from Sheffield University in 2012 and moved to Oxford to begin my DPhil investigating social networks in natural populations. I then undertook an EGI Research Fellowship also based at Oxford University’s Zoology department, joined Merton College as a Junior Research Fellow in October 2017, and was awarded a BBSRC Discovery Fellowship Grant in March 2019.


My research is primarily aimed at understanding of how individual behaviour and ecology interact to shape social structure, and the consequences of this for social processes (such as contagions) in societies. I enjoy collaborating across various topics in biology and beyond, such as using virtual systems to understand behaviour, assessing how sociality relates to health in wild mammalian populations, developing models of assessing the spread of conservation initiatives, and working with biomedical researchers in implementing big datasets to assess human health in relation to activity patterns.

For a full description of my research, please see my website:



View All Publications:


Selected Recent Publications:

Firth JA2020. Considering Complexity: Animal Social Networks and Behavioural Contagions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution; DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2019.10.009.

Firth JA et al. 2020. Handgrip strength is associated with hippocampal volume and white matter hyperintensities in major depression and healthy controls: a U.K. Biobank study. Psychosomatic Medicine; DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000753.

Ioannou C, Rocque F, Herbert-Read J, Duffield C, Firth JA. 2019. Predators attacking virtual prey reveal the costs and benefits of leadership. PNAS; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1816323116

Firth J, Torous, J, Stubbs, B, Firth JA et al. 2019. The “online brain”: how the Internet may be changing our cognition. World Psychiatry; DOI: 10.1002/wps.20617.

Someveille M, Firth JA et al. 2018. Movement and conformity interact to establish local behavioural traditions in animal populations. PLoS Computational Biology; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006647.

Firth JA. et al. 2018. Personality shapes pair bonding in a wild bird social system. Nature Ecology & Evolution; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0670-8.

Firth JA. et al. 2018. Spatial, temporal and demographic based differences in wild great tits’ nest-site visits and the consequences for reproduction. Journal of Avian Biology; DOI: 10.1111/jav.01740.

Firth J, Firth JA et al. 2018. Association Between Muscular Strength and Cognition in People With Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder and Healthy Controls. JAMA Psychiatry; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0503.

Firth JA. et al. 2017. Indirectly connected: simple social differences can explain the causes and apparent consequences of complex social network positions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1939.

Bosse M, Spurgin LG, Laine VN, Cole EF, Firth JA. et al. 2017. Recent natural selection causes adaptive evolution of an avian polygenic trait. Science; DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3298.

Firth JA. et al. 2017. Wild birds respond to flockmate loss by increasing their social network associations to others. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences;. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0299.

Firth, JA. & Sheldon, BC. 2016. Social carry-over effects underpin trans-seasonally linked structure in a wild bird population. Ecology Letters; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12669.

Firth, JA. et al. 2016. Pathways of information transmission amongst wild songbirds follow experimentally imposed changes to social foraging structure. Biology Letters; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0144.

Firth, JA. et al. 2015. Experimental Evidence that Social Relationships Determine Individual Foraging Behavior. Current Biology; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.075.

Firth, JA. & Sheldon, BC. 2015. Experimental manipulation of avian social structure reveals segregation is carried over across contexts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2350.

Firth, JA. et al. 2015. The influence of nonrandom extra-pair paternity on heritability estimates derived from wild pedigrees. Evolution; DOI: 10.1111/evo.12649.

All publications: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=NZFMvB4AAAAJ&hl=en