Student Projects

The FSBI holds an annual competition open to any member wishing to apply for postgraduate study leading to a PhD degree. The current and previous project reports resulting from this are available below.

Current Studentships

PhD Studentships: Kirthana Pillay

Kirthana Pillay Bangor University (Supervisor: Prof. Simon Creer) 2017-2020

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PhD Studentships: George Balchin

George Balchin University of Sussex (Supervisor: Prof. William Hughes) 2017-2020

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PhD Studentships: Ben Parker

Ben Parker Bournemouth University (Supervisor: Dr. Demetra Andreou) 2018-2021

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PhD Studentships: Bethany Smith

Bethany Smith University of Glasgow (Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Parsons) 2018-2021  

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PhD Studentships: Can the gut microbiome support fish health? Chris Payne

Chris Payne Stirling University (supervisors: Mags Crumlish and Simon Mackenzie) 2016-19 Can the gut microbiome support fish health? The intestinal environment of vertebrate animals is colonised by a complex microbial community, termed the microbiome. In fish, this community is extremely diverse and made up of more than one trillion bacteria/g of intestinal contents. Recent meta-analysis has revealed that many fish species share a core gut microbiome community comprised of five key bacterial phyla: Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria and Fusobacteria. Furthermore, members within this core microbiome are thought to have been selected throughout evolution to play vital roles in promoting and maintaining their host’s physiology and health status. My PhD focuses on how this microbial community can support fish health through...

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PhD Studentships: “Population Genomics and Molecular Evolution in Salmonids” Kevin Schneider

Kevin Schneider University of Glasgow (supervisors: Kathryn Elmer and Colin Adams) 2016-19 Thesis Title: “Population Genomics and Molecular Evolution in Salmonids” Some groups of salmonids, such as charr and whitefish, repeatedly and rapidly diversified into co-occurring ecomorphs in various lake habitats. This diversification potential has, at least to some degree, a genetic basis. Using transcriptome data from various species of salmonids, I am screening for footprints of natural selection to identify the genetic toolbox that could enable some salmonids to diversify rapidly. Various populations of Arctic charr, which is often considered the most variable vertebrate on earth, are characterised by ongoing or recent diversification into mostly benthic and limnetic ecomorphs. To learn more about this evolution-in-progress, I am using whole-genome...

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PhD Studentships: Social behaviour of the Archer fish (Toxotes spp.) Nick Jones

Nick Jones University of St Andrews (supervisors: Luke Rendell and Mike Webster) 2015-2018 My PhD focuses on the social behaviour of Archer fish (Toxotes spp.) and their learning. Renowned for their ability to shoot down terrestrial prey by ‘shooting’ jets of water at them archer fish may be capable of using social information from conspecifics to learn to perform specific behaviours. I am investigating this and exploring the various factors that affect their learning and social dynamics. I am supervised by Luke Rendell and Mike Webster at the University of St Andrews in collaboration with Stefan Schuster at the University of Bayreuth.

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PhD Studentships: Transgenerational effects of chronic maternal stress experience in sticklebacks Agnieszka Magierecka

Agnieszka Magierecka University of Glasgow (supervisors: Neil Metcalfe and Kath Sloman) 2015-2018 The effects of environmental stressors on organisms have been extensively studied in a wide range of phyla, including mammals, birds and fish. It has also been shown that environmental stress experienced by mothers may affect the phenotype and behaviour of their future offspring. The questions that remain largely unanswered are whether chronic exposure of mothers to environmental stressors can cause such effects in offspring and how these are influenced by the timing and duration of stress. Untangling the relationships between these factors would give an insight into the effect that environmental changes (and the potential for increased environmental stress) may have on wild fish populations. My project aims...

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PhD Studentships: Integration of Sea Angling Associated Catch and Mortality for Stock Assessment

Graham Monkman University of Bangor & CEFAS

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PhD Studentships: Differential Susceptibility to Copper in Wild Populations of Three-Spined Stickback (GASTEROSTEUS ACULEATUS)

Lauren Laing University of Exeter Supervisor(s): Eduarda Santos & Rod Wilson Most aquatic environments in the UK and worldwide have been affected by anthropogenic environmental stressors. Such stressors vary from chemical pollution to habitat fragmentation and to changes in abiotic parameters such as temperature and dissolved oxygen or carbon dioxide. Populations of fish inhabiting these environments are often exposed to combinations of stressors and, as a result, their sustainability is critically dependent on their ability to adapt to the local environment. Despite this, legislation to protect the environment from chemical contamination is often based on toxicological measurements conducted under optimal laboratory conditions and that does not take into account the variation in susceptibility of wild populations or the multiple stressors...

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PhD Studentships: Fish Ecology of Mesophotic Coral Reef Ecosystems

Dominic Andradi-Brown University of Oxford Supervisor(s): Alex Rogers (Oxford) and Dan Exton (Operation Wallacea) Mesophotic coral reef ecosystems (MCE) occur in tropical regions extending from 30 m to the limit of the photic zone, c. 150 m. These reefs are often connected to shallow coral reef ecosystems, where it is suggested they provide an important reservoir of recruits for coral and fish populations. Existing reef fish studies are highly depth biased mostly < 30 m, making the importance of mesophotic reefs to overall reef resilience in the face of human disturbances such as overfishing largely unknown, with a lack of evidence for whether fish populations on shallow reefs and adjacent MCEs are connected. This study addresses this important information gap...

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PhD Studentships: Assessing and predicting the impacts of non-native fish parasites: From Hosts to Ecosystems

Josie Pegg Bournemouth University Supervisor(s): Robert Britton and Demetra Andreou The global introduction rate of freshwater fish has doubled in the last thirty years, primarily through fish movements in the aquaculture industry. When fish are moved from their natural range and introduced into a new range, they are likely to be host to a number of parasites. Whilst some of these parasites might be lost during the introduction process, often some will remain. If transmitted to native species, infection consequences can include pathological damage and, potentially, modifications to host behaviour, fitness and energetics. Given that native parasites have recently been shown to play important roles in food webs through, for example, increasing connectivity, nestedness and robustness, then further introductions of...

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PhD Studentships: The effects of Different Beta-Glucans on fish microflora: Immunomodulation and disease protection

Sarah Harris Keele University Supervisor(s): Dave Hoole, Mark Skidmore and Dieter Steinhagen There is ever increasing pressure on fish populations to meet the demands placed on them both as a food source and an economic commodity. Aquaculture plays a significant role in reducing the need to rely on wild populations, thus helping species that have been pushed dangerously close to extinction to start recovering and, additionally, lessening the strain on wild cohorts of more stable species. As with any farmed population keeping large numbers together can drastically increase the spread of pathogenic disease which may result in high mortality rates and economic losses. Since the immune protection induced by vaccination tends to be specific to the target pathogen and there...

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PhD Studentships: Reef Structural Complexity and the Dwindling Habitat for Diverse Caribbean Fish Communities

Charlie Dryden Newcastle University Supervisor(s): Nick Polunin & Steve Newman Scleractinian corals are ‘ecosystem engineers’, providing most of the foundations of the coral reef ecosystem, specifically creating a three-dimensional physical habitat and micro-climatic conditions for a plethora of species and ecosystem services. Corals act as a refuge from predators, provide habitat surfaces for prey and offer nesting sites for brooding species. Threats to the existence of coral reefs such as climate-related bleaching, diseases, nutrient susceptibility and fishing-related impacts, have created an urgent need to more fully understand the role corals, and the habitat they create, play in supporting the diverse and abundant coral reef communities. Early work on coral reef degradation focussed largely on phase shifts from coral to algal...

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PhD Studentships: Sensory Ecology, Parasites and Mate Choice in the Guppy, POECILIA RETICULATA

Jessica Stephenson Cardiff University & Bristol University Supervisor(s): Joanna Cable & Gabrielle Archard, & Julian Partridge My research focuses on the way information from different sensory systems (vision and olfaction) interact to inform animal decisions. I am using the guppy-gyrodactylid model system to test how parasitism affects this interaction in a mate choice context. In dissecting the mechanism by which parasitism can alter mate choice in this host, the project will increase understanding of how sexual selection changes in parasitized populations. Furthermore, this could provide an explanation for the maintenance of anomalously high Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) allelic diversity in parasitized fish populations. How an individual’s mate choice preferences change over time is an understudied area of evolutionary ecology. Condition-dependent...

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PhD Studentship: A Genomic approach to the Genetic Impact of an Invasive Congener on a threatened native pond fish

Daniel Jeffries University of Hull & Cefas-Lowestoft Supervisor(s): Bernd Hänfling, Lori Lawson-Handley & Gordon Copp Research on invasive species and invaded communities is essential to understanding and predicting biodiversity change. Furthermore, introduced species are excellent model systems with which to address fundamental questions in biology. However, biological invasions can have dramatic impacts on native species and this appears to be the case for the crucian carp Carassius carassius, which is native to northwestern Europe (including southeast England), and under threat from non-native congeners goldfish C. auratus and gibel (a.k.a. Prussian) carp C. gibelio. Conservation efforts for C. carassius are hampered by the taxonomic ambiguity which exists between C. carassius, C. auratus and C. gibelio; the problems in classifying and identifying...

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PhD Studentship: Serena Wright

Serena Wright Cefas & Swansea University (supervisors: Julian Metcalfe, and Rory Wilson) 2010-2013

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PhD Studentship: Natalie Simmonds

Natalie Simmonds University of Leicester (supervisor: Iain Barber) 2010-2013

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PhD Studentship: Rachel Ball

Rachel Ball University of Aberdeen (supervisors: Leslie Noble and Catherine Jones) 2010-2013

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PhD Studentship: The Structure and Function of Social Networks in a Marine Predator

David Jacoby Marine Biological Association & University of Exeter Supervisor(s): Darren Croft and David Sims It is well documented that many species of shark exhibit frequent, and often sexually segregated, aggregation behaviour during the resting phase of their diel cycle. This behaviour has been linked in the past to habitat or environmental preferences, foraging opportunities and reproductive behaviour, but little attention has been paid to the role of social preferences in these aggregations. Social network analysis is a theoretical framework which has been recently adapted to explore how animals interact through space and time, and consequently what impact this has on the transmission of information or disease between conspecifics. With elasmobranchs exhibiting a larger brain mass to body mass ratio...

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