Rachel Louise Gunn

Lancaster University

Email: r.gunn2@lancaster.ac.uk

Rachel is a ENVISION DTP NERC funded PhD student at Lancaster Environment Centre, supervised by Dr Sally Keith, Dr Ian Hartley and Dr Adam Algar (University of Nottingham). Following of a BSc Hons degree in Zoology at the University of Nottingham, Rachel went on to complete an MSc in Marine Biology at Bangor University. For her MSc thesis, Rachel was given the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, assessing the efficacy of invasive lionfish management across the Cayman Islands. Rachel then went on to work as a ‘Reef Ecology Lecturer’ in the Bay Islands, Honduras, before returning to the UK to begin her PhD. Rachel’s current research considers both behavioural ecology, specifically individual differences in behaviour/personality in response to climate change, and macro ecology, considering how distributions of reef fish may change under future climatic conditions.

Research Interests

Rachel is interested in intraspecific variation in the personality of butterflyfish (Chaetodon spp.) and how these differences will allow species to potentially buffer the effects of coral bleaching and persist under future environmental conditions. Rachel will be conducting fieldwork in Indonesia, funded my Operation Wallacea, to identify personality differences between butterflyfish individuals both between and among reefs.

Through a combination of this field work, pre existing data analyses and modelling techniques, her PhD considers four broad questions:

  • How variable is personality amongst individuals, within and across reefs?
  • How does this variation relate to habitat complexity?
  • Do fish populations on reefs that have undergone recent mass coral mortality have a higher frequency of bold, explorative individuals?
  • How do these differences in personality frequency scale up to impact the potential for species to track changing climate?

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