PhD: An interdisciplinary approach to understanding predator modification of prey behaviour
School of Ocean Sciences
I originally studied Zoology as an undergraduate at Leeds University back in 2007 and carried out an investigation into the gate of scorpions using a photoelastic gel technique. After a few years outside of academia, during which time I developed a fascination for marine invertebrate ecology and gained lots of practical experience in conducting research, I studies a Masters in Marine biology at Bangor University. During my MSc thesis I studied the non-lethal effects of predators on prey, using a well understood intertidal invertebrate system, looking at their influence on prey behaviour and physiology. This only recently appreciated aspect of predation has been termed “The Ecology of Fear” and have been shown to have an equal or larger ecological impact than that of direct predation.
My PhD research is a continuation of my MSc thesis with the aim of further investigating both the behavioural and physiological impacts predators have on prey as well as attempting to place this within a larger ecological context. This will involve a combination of both lab and field experiments to try to better understand the processes that underpin predator prey relationships. The lab experiments will focus on the detection and physiological changes that happen in prey both when they detect the presence of a predator as well as the long term effects of exposure to different temporal patters of fear. Field experiments will be designed to try to look at the how behavioural changes in prey due to the presence of a predator influence other taxa. This research will hopefully add to the growing body of work attempting to fully appreciate the effects predators have on their wider ecology.