The Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) provides summer placements for Cardiff University undergraduates in the University research environment. CUROP offers a stipend to support a student on a placement of up to eight weeks duration, working with supervision on staff-defined research projects. For more information, click here.
All CUROP positions within CRIPES have now been filled.
Case studies of two CUROP students:
Cormac Kinsella: Does parasitism affect vulnerability to predation in guppies? (2014)
The impact of parasites within ecological systems has been increasingly recognised in recent years. They are ubiquitous, making up significant biomass within systems, and often impacting host behaviour or influencing trophic transmission of energy flow through foodwebs – possibly with substantial evolutionary implications. There are numerous cases of parasites increasing their hosts’ vulnerability to predation to increase their own transmission rate; what implications might it have for parasites that do not benefit? Using the well-studied model system of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) and their monogenean parasite Gyrodactylus turnbulli, we will investigate the impact parasites may have on predator-prey interactions. The speed of an escape response to a potential predation risk is a strong selective component of escape behaviour. In guppies the reflex escape response is mediated through two large neurons (the Mauthner cells), and causes rapid tensioning of one side of the body, so causing it to form a ‘C’ shape (C-start) before swift propulsion away from the threat. During my CUROP placement, I will compare this reflex response between experimental groups of guppies in order to answer several important questions.
Philippa Ball: Toxocara contamination in soil samples (2014)
My CUROP was a continuation of the BARC (Bag and Remove in Cymru) project that I established earlier in my Placement Training Year (PTY). This project investigated differences in prevalence of the parasite Toxocara canis in Green flag parks, Private gardens and Children’s play areas. Volunteers around the UK, as well as Cardiff County Council Park Rangers and Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) employees collected soil samples. These samples were analysed in the CRIPES parasite diagnostic lab using an adapted variation of the McMaster method. So far I have found a 38.5% (n=117) prevalence of T. canis and detected other parasites, including Cystoisospora, strongylids, and Trichuris spp.
Previous CUROP students and their project titles:
2016 Karan Gupta: ‘Trade-offs between immune status and fish swimming performance’
2016 Dayna Lea: ‘How do social networks influence infection transmission dynamics?’
2016 Claire Astin: ‘Cleaner fish biology’
2015 Robby Mitchell: ‘Argulus foliaceus infection and the consequences for fish swimming performance’
2015 Owen Wright: ‘How does selection on MHC genetic variation affect parasite resistance?’
2015 Tom Ruff: ‘Impact of flow rate on guppy shoaling behaviour’
2014 Jessica Ponting: ‘Individual variation in blood parasites in wild rodents’ (based at Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy)
2014 Zach Smallbone: ‘Impact of bed shear stress on the critical swimming speed of fish’
2014 Mike Reynolds: ‘Genetic analysis of parasite fauna infecting freshwater fish species (Cyclocheilichthys repasson and Ompok bimaculatus) in the Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia’ (based at Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO), Portugal)
2013 Rhidian Thomas: ‘Agonistic interactions between invasive crayfish species (Pacifastacus leniusculus and Orconectes virilis) in the UK’
2013 Cameron Stone: ‘A new measure of fish swimming performance: the influence of velocity and turbulence’
2013 Ellen Smith: ‘Does host contact time predict parasite transmission’
2013 Jordan Fox: ‘How infection load relates to infectiousness’
2013 Marcos Garcia: ‘The effect of climate change on parasite development’ (based at Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy)
2012 Sophie France: ‘Olfactory modulation of guppy visual behaviour’
2012 Alex Chinchen: ‘Intra-specific parasite competition’
2011 Joanna James: ‘Gyrodactylids and bacteria: friends or foes?’