October 6, 2020

Catherine Sheppard

Catherine Sheppard

PhD: Angry Damsels: Do Species Interactions After Overfishing Enhance or Inhibit Coral Reef Recovery?

Location: Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University

Email Catherine Sheppard

I completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology and MRes in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter. My Masters’ thesis focused on individual specialisation in group-living mammals, investigating the effects of group size on individual foraging niche and the mechanisms behind acquiring such niches. Achieving my divemaster qualification drew me back to my love of marine biology, which lead to my pursuing a PhD which brings my background in behavioural ecology into a marine setting.

My PhD focuses on how heightened aggression between fish species affects coral reef resilience and recovery. To achieve this, I will work with project partner Operation Wallacea at their field site in Honduras using pioneering stereo-video methods to generate 3D-heatmaps of fish behaviour along a gradient of fishing pressure. Alongside field experiments on damselfish aggression, I will use this data to develop ecosystem-based models which will inform management strategies to maintain optimum relative fish abundances for recovery.