Project Overview (Sêr Cymru II ERDF Fellowship)

Human activities, whether extractive or through habitat modification and infrastructure construction can affect the behaviour of fishes, which can result in multiple impacts on the ecosystem process and services to which fishes contribute, such as fisheries and recovery from disturbance. The aim of my project is to quantify how fish behavioural modifications feedback into the functioning of the near-shore reef ecosystems, and the potential sustainability consequences for recreational and other fisheries. I will achieve this through the following objectives:

  1. Identifying which human-mediated fish behaviours result in ecologically consequential trophic cascades to the benthic and fish communities;
  2. Using model organisms, investigate whether learned anti-predator and anti-fisheries behaviour may result in genetic selectivity and transgenerational consequences or if the response is phenotypically plastic;
  3. Identify how fish behavioural changes may influence how fishers behave and their knowledge and perception of the ecosystem.

The three objectives of my research programme complement each other, ensuring that research outputs will be produced across the duration of my Fellowship. The application of novel perspectives on the impact and sustainability of fisheries in Wales and further afield can be used to guide strategies to both conserve important marine habitat and meet stakeholder goals. This research will contribute to improving the environmental and social well-being of Wales, in line with both the Welsh National Marine Plan and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, as well have a global impact on tropical near-shore fisheries.

The objectives of my research will be met through both field and aquaria work, collaborating with researchers and institutions in both Wales and the Philippines to conduct in-water behavioural surveys and in the zebrafish lab at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research at Swansea University.