I graduated from Cardiff University in July 2014 with a degree in Zoology, which included a Professional Training Year (PTY). My interest in aquatic biology stemmed from a second year Tropical Marine Ecology field course to Tobago (2012). My project investigated the influences of cleaning stations on territorial behaviour of the Dusky damselfish (Stegastes adustus). During this trip I first worked with Prof. Jo Cable and Dr. Raquel Xavier whom subsequently co-supervised me, alongside Dr. Benoit Goossens during my PTY (2012-2013) at Danau Girang Field Centre, Malaysia. Here, I conducted the first parasitological study of freshwater fish from the Kinabatangan River. Additionally, I fulfilled a research assistant position assisting with a diverse range of projects on small mammals, crocodiles, banteng and Borneo’s carnivores. I have also been a demonstrator on a new marine conservation field course at Gaya Island, off the coast of Kota Kinabalu (June 2014) comparing coral diversity between reefs subjected to varying levels of disturbance.
My final year project, supervised by Jess Stephenson and Prof. Jo Cable, investigated the behavioural responses of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) to chemical cues associated with Gyrodactylus turnbulli infected and uninfected conspecifics. Following graduation, I obtained a CUROP funded research internship enabling me to complete the genetic aspect of my PTY working at the Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO), Portugal, under the supervision of Dr. Raquel Xavier.
Location: Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX Room: C7.07
Climate change is predicted to have profound indirect impacts on aquatic animal health with respect to infectious disease.
Although temperature remains the predominant abiotic factor affecting aquatic parasite ecology, it is increasingly recognised how changes in hydrology also impact host-parasite dynamics. Using the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) – Gyrodactylus turnbulli model system, my research focusses on how thermal and hydrological heterogeneities affect shoaling behaviour and parasite transmission within shoals. I am also interested in using social network theory to assess how the social structure of a group influences disease transmission dynamics.
Final Year Project: Investigating olfactory perception in the Trinidadian Guppy, Poecilia reticulata: can guppies smell Gyrodactylus turnbulli infections of conspecifics? Supervised by Jess Stephenson and Prof. Jo Cable.
Parasite transmission between individuals is an inevitable consequence of group living. The ability to discriminate between infected and uninfected conspecifics is therefore beneficial; it enables an individual to initiate avoidance behaviours to maintain its own health. It is well recognised that olfactory cues play important roles in animal communication. For example, species including bees, lobsters and mice employ chemically mediated detection strategies to identify an infected conspecific and respond to prevent themselves becoming infected.
This project investigated the responses of parasite resistant and susceptible guppies to chemosensory stimuli created from infected and uninfected fish.
Professional training year at Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah, Borneo: Investigating parasite fauna of two freshwater fish species; Ompok bimaculatus and Cyclocheilichthys repasson, within the Kinabatangan River. Supervised by Dr Benoit Goossens, Prof. Jo Cable and Dr Raquel Xavier (2012-13).
Little is known about the effects of habitat degradation on fish stocks from the Kinabatangan River (KR), and nothing was known about the parasite fauna infecting these fish. Parasites play important roles in all biological systems, and understanding their ecology provides valuable information regarding host population dynamics, life history traits and host-parasite co-evolutionary mechanisms. Habitat pollution affects parasite communities, altering pathogenicity and leading to the emergence of diseases, impacting riverine ecosystems by reducing the diversity of fish species and altering food web dynamics. It is therefore essential to understand parasite ecology to maintain sustainable aquaculture, in particular subsistence of local families who rely heavily on healthy fish stocks.
CUROP funded research internship at the Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO), Portugal: Using molecular tools to uncover parasite diversity of commercially valuable fish hosts from the Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia. Supervised by Dr. Raquel Xavier and Prof. Jo Cable (July-Sept 2014).
Utilising samples collected during my professional training year, the study aims to (a) use molecular markers to identify monogenean and digenean parasites infecting two common freshwater food fish species; Cyclocheilichthys repasson and Ompok bimaculatus, (b) assess the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relations of these parasites, and c) compare genetic diversity of parasites between sampling sites including tributaries and oxbow lakes.
Stephenson JF, Reynolds M. (2016). Imprinting can cause maladaptive preference for contagious conspecifics. Biology Letters. in press.
Reynolds M, Xavier R, Goossens B, Cable J. (2015). Uncovering the genetic diversity of freshwater fish parasites from the Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia. Poster presentation, British Society of Parasitology Spring Meeting, Liverpool, 16th – 18th April 2015.