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Dr Emma Gillingham


Emma Gillingham 2011-2015

I studied for my degree in Zoology at Cardiff University between 2006 and 2010. My interest in scientific research was initiated by the second year field course, and grew during the final year research project. I attended the Tropical Marine Ecology field course in Tobago, where I conducted a project investigating the behaviour of the damselfish (Stegastes fuscus). Whilst in Tobago I became interested in parasites after chatting with Professor Jo Cable and I went on to carry out my final year research project under her supervision with one of her PhD students, Bettina Schelkle. My project involved investigating whether a Pitch Lake in Trinidad contained compounds that were responsible for causing low parasite burdens of the guppys within this Lake.

After graduating, I worked as a research assistant with Dr. Sarah Perkins, investigating the loss of parasites in invasive species, focusing on the bank vole (Myodes glareolus) in the Republic of Ireland. This marked the beginning of my interest in small mammals and their parasites. In April 2011, I began my PhD looking at the impacts of climate change on host-parasite interactions, using the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) as a model species.




Supervisors: Sarah Perkins, Jo Cable (Cardiff University, UK), Annapaola Rizzoli (Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy).

Funding: Fondazione Edmund Mach


Climate change is the biggest threat facing ecosystems in the 21st century, and knowing how organisms will respond to climate change is vital. There is already evidence of ecological shifts occurring in response to increasing temperatures, such as earlier bird migration and insect emergence, and distributions of some species has shifted. Parasites will not be exempt from such changes, because many species spend part of the lifecycle outside of the host at the mercy of the climate, and there is already evidence from the arctic, where the greatest increase in temperatures will be seen, that parasitic lifestyles are changing in response to a changing climate.


My PhD involves using the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) as a model species for investigating how parasite communities could change with a changing climate. Yellow-necked mice are hosts for many diseases which can be transferred to humans (zoonoses), such as tick-borne encephalitis. I am using altitude as a proxy for measuring climate change and sample mice at high altitude, where it is cooler and drier, (representing the current climate) and low altitude, where it is warmer and wetter (representing the future climate as predicted for Northern Europe by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change). I am investigating the parasite community of yellow-necked mice, using fecal egg counts and worm counts in order to determine how climate change could affect the parasite community of life history traits of the yellow-necked mouse.


Since completing my PhD in July 2015, I have been working as an emerging infections scientist at Public Health England. My main focus is on vectors (e.g. ticks and mosquitoes) and the impact they have on public health. It is a fascinating to see how science can affect policy, and how the government responses to disease outbreaks in the UK.



See also Google Scholar, ResearchGate and LinkedIn

Schelkle B., Mohammed R.S., Coogan M.P., McMullan M., Gillingham E.L., van Oosterhout C., Cable J. (2012). Parasites pitched against nature: Pitch Lake water protects guppies (Poecilia reticulata) from microbial and gyrodactylid infections. Parasitology 139: 1772-1779

Non-peer reviewed publications

Stephenson J., Gillingham E., Withenshaw S. (2014). Project management, fellowships and grants: a workshop full of top tips. BES Bulletin 45 (1): 40-41.

International Conference Presentations

Gillingham, E.L., Cable, J., Rizzoli, A.P., Perkins, S.E. (2014). The effect of a changing climate on parasite life history strategies. Oral presentation. British Society of Parasitology Spring Meeting, Cambridge University, 6th – 9th April 2014

Gillingham E.L., Cable J., Rizzoli A.P., Perkins S.E. (2013). How does climate alter parasite life-history strategies? Poster presentation, Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, Penn State University, USA, 20th – 23rd May 2013

Gillingham E.L., Cable J., Rizzoli A.P., Perkins S.E. (2012). Will climate change alter parasite development? Poster presentation, British Ecological Society Meeting, Birmingham, 17th – 20th December 2012

Gillingham E.L., Cable J., Rizzoli A.P., Perkins S.E. (2012). How will global climate change affect host-parasite interactions? Poster presentation, British Parasitology Spring Meeting, Glasgow, 3-5th April 2012 (voted Best Parasites and Vectors poster)

Gillingham E.L., Rizzoli A.P., Cable C., Perkins S.E. (2011). The effect of global climate change on host-parasite interactions. Internal oral presentation, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Trentino, Italy, 12th October 2011.

Gillingham E.L., White T., Behnke J., Perkins S.E. (2011). Does parasite loss facilitate invasion success? A case study using the invasive bank vole, Myodes glareolus. Poster presentation, British Parasitology Spring Meeting, Nottingham, 12-14th April 2011.