The Animal Behavior Podcast

E03: Eleanor Caves on the Umwelt, Cleaner Shrimp, and Imposter Syndrome

July 19, 2021 The Animal Behavior Podcast Season 1 Episode 3
The Animal Behavior Podcast
E03: Eleanor Caves on the Umwelt, Cleaner Shrimp, and Imposter Syndrome
Show Notes

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Matthew speaks with Eleanor Caves (@EleanorCaves), a Marie Curie fellow and soon-to-be assistant professor at UC Santa Barbara.

They start out by talking about the concept of the umwelt and the importance of sensory ecology in understanding animal behavior.  Then they talk about Eleanor's work exploring the signaling and sensory worlds of cleaner shrimp and their clients. After the break, they discuss work-life balance, imposter syndrome, and overcoming challenges in academia.

This week's Two-Minute Takeaway comes from Chase Anselmo (@ChasingTheBrain), a graduate student in the Maruska lab at Louisiana State University. Read about the paper that serves as the foundation for Chase's work studying the impacts of hormones on cichlid color perception here.

Papers/media relevant to today's show:

For an explanation of the history of the umwelt and human biases in sensory ecology:

EM Caves, S Nowicki, and S Johnsen. 2019. Von Uexküll revisited: Addressing human biases in the study of animal perception. Integrative and Comparative Biology.

2.  Regarding the importance of visual acuity in explaining animal behavior

EM Caves, NC Brandley, and S Johnsen. 2018. Visual acuity and the evolution of signals. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 33: 358-372.

3. Videos from Eleanor's fieldwork showing cleaner shrimp and client behavior: 


The Animal Behavior Podcast is created by Matthew Zipple (@MatthewZipple) and Amy Strauss (@avstrauss).

You can contact us at and find us on Twitter (@AnimalBehavPod).

Our theme song is by Sally Street (@Rainbow_Road13), assistant professor in evolutionary anthropology at Durham University in the UK. You can find her on Sound Cloud here:

Musical transitions by André Gonçalves (@fieryangelsfell), a researcher at the primate research institute at Kyoto University.

Our logo was designed by Adeline Durand-Monteil (@adelinedurandm), a master’s student in ecology and evolution. You can see more of Adeline's work on her website:

The Animal Behavior Podcast is produced with support from the Animal Behavior Society (@AnimBehSociety).