About the Project
The project will investigate how use of information by fish is altered by environmental conditions that are driven by human activity, with a focus on increased turbidity and noise. Does noise and turbidity reduce direct detection of important cues such as those associated with food, increasing reliance on social information and making decisions collectively? Or is the effect of turbidity and noise greater on social cues, so that fish are less social and have to rely more on private information? What are the combined effects of these multiple stressors? What are the ecological consequences in terms of food acquisition of these anthropogenic effects?
These questions will be answered using a combination of field studies and laboratory aquarium experiments to ensure ecological realism and to allow mechanisms to be determined. The balance of field and laboratory work, and between the mechanistic underpinnings versus the ecological consequences, can be guided by the student, and allows flexibility in response to restrictions imposed by Covid-19. There is also considerable scope for the student to determine what behaviours and contexts are investigated, and the extensive literature on the behaviour and ecology of sticklebacks and guppies gives an excellent basis to inform such choices.
The project will suit a candidate interested in the interface between animal behaviour and environmental change. There is flexibility built into the design of the project to shift the balance between laboratory work at the University of Bristol using sticklebacks, fieldwork in the UK using sticklebacks, and fieldwork in Trinidad using guppies. A large component of fieldwork in the tropics will require a student willing to work independently in challenging conditions and to be particularly well organised. We welcome and encourage student applications from under-represented groups. We value a diverse research environment.
The project will give the student training across multiple skills: sampling and using instruments to measure environmental variables in the field, behavioural experimentation in the field and laboratory including playback experiments, computer vision software to record trajectory behaviour from video, and advanced programming and statistical techniques to analyse data. The supervisory team will provide the training required. The student will attend at least one international animal behaviour conference (e.g. ISBE).
Chamberlain A.C., Ioannou C.C. (2019) Turbidity increases risk perception but constrains collective behaviour during foraging by fish shoals. Animal Behaviour, 156: 129-138, 10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.08.012.
Harding, H. R., T. A. C. Gordon, E. Eastcott, S. D. Simpson, & A. N. Radford, 2019. Causes and consequences of intraspecific variation in animal responses to anthropogenic noise. Behavioral Ecology arz114, 10.1098/rspb.2015.2592.
Ginnaw, G. M., I. K. Davidson, H. R. Harding, S. D. Simpson, N. W. Roberts, A. N. Radford, & C. C. Ioannou, 2020. Effects of multiple stressors on fish shoal collective motion are independent and vary with shoaling metric. Animal Behaviour 168: 7–17, 10.1016/j.anbehav.2020.07.024.
Ioannou, C. C., I. W. Ramnarine, & C. J. Torney, 2017. High-predation habitats affect the social dynamics of collective exploration in a shoaling fish. Science Advances 3: e1602682.
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