December 11, 2018

Rachel Gunn

Rachel Gunn

Impact of coral reef fish personalities on species persistence under environmental change

Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, LA1 4YQ.



Twitter: @RachelGunn5

I completed a BSc Hons degree in Zoology from the University of Nottingham in 2016. To build on this experience, I went on to complete an MSc in Marine Biology at Bangor University. The research focus for my MSc thesis was the invasion of lionfish (Pterois spp.) in the Caribbean, specifically addressing the impact and management of lionfish in the Cayman Islands. The research was completed in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and Bangor University. I then went on to work in Utila, Honduras, with Operation Wallacea in 2018 as the “Reef Ecology Lecturer” for university students. My time with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, Operation Wallacea, combined with my PADI Divemaster and MSD status, has given me an extensive, broad knowledge of coral reef ecology.

My PhD research project focuses on the role personality plays in the response of individual reef fish to a changing environment. Individual personality is an important aspect of animal behavior that could play a role in the disruption of ecological communities with climate change. Using butterflyfish (Chaetodon spp.) as the study organism, I shall conduct research in situ addressing intraspecific variation in butterflyfish personality, and relating variation to butterflyfish territories, reef complexity and subsequent foraging strategies, and environmental conditions. Butterflyfish feed directly on corals and are therefore susceptible to the effects of coral bleaching. Using modelling techniques, I shall also consider the persistence of butterflyfish individuals and populations under future predicted environmental conditions.