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Rachel Paterson



I studied Ecology (BSc) and Wildlife Management (PgDip, MSc) at the University of Otago before working for Landcare Research – Manaaki Whenua as a wildlife research technician. I returned to Otago to complete a PhD with Prof. Robert Poulin, Prof. Colin Townsend and Dr. Dan Tompkins (Landcare Research), studying the influence of exotic salmonids on native host-parasite dynamics. My postdoctoral research brought me to Northern Ireland (Queens’ University Belfast), Norway (Norwegian Veterinary Institute) and back to New Zealand (UoO). In 2017 I returned to the UK for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND fellowship based with Prof Jo Cable in the CRIPES research group.



Telephone: +44(0)29 208 75384

Extension: 75384

Location: Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX. Room C/7.29

Twitter: @rpaterson_nz       @multistressors


My research combines parasite ecology, aquatic ecology and invasion biology. I utilise a multi-scale approach intergrating field observations, laboratory experiments and modelling (dynamic simulation & statistical) to investigate host-parasite dynamics.

Current research focus:

MULTISTRESS – non-additive impacts of multiple stressors on host-parasite interactions

Global climate change is the greatest emerging threat to biodiversity across terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems. However, as multiple anthropogenic stressors already place severe pressure on ecosystem structure and function, it is essential to understand how ecosystems will respond to interactions between existing and impending stressors. Whilst the cumulative effects of multiple stressors may result in predictable additive responses, interactive effects of multiple stressors may drive complex synergisms (amplified effects) or antagonisms (reduced effects) that create “ecological surprises”. Parasites with complex lifecycles spanning multiple trophic levels are highly vulnerable to changes in their abiotic environment, and thus are ideal indicators of how ecosystems will respond to multiple stressors. The MULTISTRESS project will apply a novel multiple-scale approach to test the hypothesis that multiple stressors will have non-additive impacts on freshwater ecosystems.

Supervisor: Prof. Jo Cable (Cardiff University). Collaborators: Profs. Rune Knudsen & Per-Arne Amundsen (University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway)

Funding: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND


Selected publications:

McIntosh AR, Death RG, Greenwood MJ & Paterson RA. 2016. Stream food webs. In Jellyman PG, Davie TJA, Pearson CP &, Harding JS (eds). Advances in New Zealand Freshwater Science. New Zealand Hydrological Society and New Zealand Freshwater Science Society, Christchurch, New Zealand

Hatcher MJ, Dick JT, Paterson RA, Alexander ME, Bunke M & Dunn AM. 2015. Trait-mediated effects of parasites on invader-native interactions. In Host manipulations by parasites and viruses. pp. 29-47. DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-22936-2_3

Bunke M, Alexander ME, Dick JTA, Hatcher MJ, Paterson RA & Dunn AM. 2015. Eaten alive: cannibalism is enhanced by parasites. Royal Society Open Science 2, 140369. DOI:10.1098/rsos.140369

Paterson RA, Dick JTA, Pritchard DW, Ennis M, Hatcher MJ & Dunn AM. 2014. Predicting invasive species impacts: community module functional response experiments reveal context dependencies. Journal of Animal Ecology 84:453-463. DOI:10.1111/1365-2656.12292

Dick JTA, Alexander ME, Jeschke JM, Ricciardi A, MacIsaac HJ, Robinson TB, Kumschick S, Weyl OLF, Dunn AM, Hatcher MJ, Paterson RA, Farnsworth KD & Richardson DM. 2014. Advancing impact prediction and hypothesis testing in invasion ecology using a comparative functional response approach. Biological Invasions 16:735-753. DOI:10.1007/s10530-013-0550-8

Paterson RA, Pritchard DW, Dick JTA, Alexander ME, Hatcher MJ & Dunn AM. 2013. Predator cue studies reveal strong trait-mediated effects in communities despite variation in experimental designs. Animal Behaviour 86:1301–1313. DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.09.036

Paterson RA, Rauque C, Fernandez MV, Townsend CR, Poulin R &Tompkins DM. 2013. Native fish avoid parasite spillback from multiple exotic hosts: consequences of host density and parasite competency. Biological Invasions 15:2205-2218. DOI:10.1007/s10530-013-0445-8

Paterson RA, Lal A, Dale M, Townsend CR, Poulin R & Tompkins DM. 2013. Relative competence of native and exotic fish hosts for two generalist native trematodes. International Journal for Parasitology:Parasites & Wildlife 2:136-143. DOI:10.1016/j.ijppaw.2013.03.004

Paterson RA, Townsend CR, Tompkins DM & Poulin R. 2012. Ecological determinants of parasite acquisition by exotic fish species. Oikos 121:1889-1895. DOI:10.1111/j.1600-0706.2012.20143.x

Rauque CA, Paterson RA, Poulin R & Tompkins DM. 2011. Do different parasites species interact in their effects of host fitness? A case study on parasites of the amphipod Paracalliope fluviatilis. Parasitology 138:1176-82. DOI:10.1017/S0031182011000928

Paterson RA, Townsend CR, Poulin R & Tompkins DM. 2011. Introduced brown trout alter native acanthocephalan infections in native fish. Journal of Animal Ecology 80:990-998. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01834.x

Poulin R, Paterson RA, Townsend CR, Tompkins DM & Kelly DW. 2011. Biological invasions and the dynamics of native diseases in freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 56:676-688. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2427.2010.02425.x

Tompkins DM, Paterson RA, Massey B & Gleeson DM. 2009. Whataroa Virus four decades on – Emerging, persisting, or faded-out? Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 40:1-9. DOI:10.1080/03036751003641701

Kelly DW, Paterson RA, Townsend CR, Poulin R & Tompkins DM. 2009. Parasite spillback: a neglected concept in invasion ecology? Ecology 90:2047-2056. DOI:10.1890/08-1085.1

Kelly DW, Paterson RA, Townsend CR, Poulin R & Tompkins DM. 2009. Has brown trout introduction altered disease patterns in native New Zealand fish? Freshwater Biology 54:1805-1818. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2427.2009.02228.x

Stoffels RJ, Karbe S & Paterson RA. 2003. Length-mass models for some common New Zealand littoral-benthic macroinvertebrates, with a note on within-taxon variability in parameter values among published models. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 37:449-460. DOI:10.1080/00288330.2003.9517179