Sharon Wismer


Animal cognition refers to the mechanisms involved in learning, memory
and decision-making, and can be described as the way individuals perceive,
process and act on information about their environment.
This field is dominated by research on primate species, yet recent evidence
suggests that other animal taxa, including some mammal, bird and fish
species, are capable of similar cognitive abilities previously described only
in primates.
The bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, is a prime example.
Similar to primates, these fish use Machiavellian Intelligence-like behavioural
strategies to maximize personal gain across repeated social interactions.
Cleaner wrasse have even shown to outcompete three different primate
species (chimpanzees, orang-utans, capuchin monkeys) in a complex
laboratory-based cognitive foraging task.

For my PhD project, I will use cleaner wrasse to test various cognitive
aspects, including their flexibility to adjust to novel social conditions in
different reef habitats and their ability to solve complex cognitive tasks
previously described only in higher vertebrates. Collectively, this will
allow me to address how ecological factors relate to cognition across
different species, provide insight into the emergence of particular cognitive
skills throughout evolution and help promote the emerging view that fishes
have higher cognitive abilities than what is currently acknowledged.
A change in our perception of fishes would help conservation and animal
welfare efforts.



PhD in Behavioural Ecology
Supervisor: Prof. Redouan Bshary
"Cognition in cleaner wrasse"
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Master of Science in Biology (Animal Behaviour)
Prof. Redouan Bshary and Prof. Marta Manser
"Environmental influence on cognition and cooperation
in bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)"
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Research Assistant and Laboratory Manager
For Prof. David Bellwood Reef Fish Research
ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies and
James Cook University, Australia
Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology
James Cook University, Australia


room: D 128
Université de Neuchâtel
Institut de Biologie
Rue Emile-Argand 11
CH-2000 Neuchâtel
Tel. +41 32 718 31 14
Fax +41 32 718 30 01