Mr Niall Gauld, M.Res, Bsc (Hons)
M.Res.: University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK (Ecology and Environmental Biology)
B.Sc. (Hons): University of Dundee, Dundee, UK (Zoology)
Current research interests
My current research interests revolve around the migratory behaviour of native UK salmonid species, particularly brown trout (Salmo trutta) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Current research includes tracking the movement of sea trout and salmon during key migratory life history stages using various biotelemetry techniques. Principally I am investigating the impact environmental and anthropogenic factors have on the migratory behaviour and survival of both juvenile and adult fish.
Electronic mate choice in three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)
In phenotypically plastic species such as three-spine stickleback morphology can vary greatly within populations. In many cases this variation in morphology is ecologically driven with morphology adapting to a specific ecological aspects, such as a food source or local habitat. Using geometric morphometrics discrete variations in head shape morphology was analysed for multiple populations of three-spine stickleback. A morphological continuum was described for head shape, with head shapes varying from extremely robust (benthic foragers) to extremely slender (pelagic foragers).
Using this defined continuum, a series of 3D computer animated artificial mates were created. In replicated paired behavioural trials sexually mature female stickleback were offered the choice of electronic males with either more robust head shapes or more slender head shapes in either half of an experimental tank. The responses exhibited by the females were recorded and the periods of time spent in each tank half were compared. The male that the females spent the most time with was considered to be their ‘choice’.
In general females preferred to mate with males that had morphology less extreme than their own, for example female with robust head shapes preferred males with more slender head shapes and vice versa. This may indicate that females favour more generalist mates.
Research comprised the second thesis of my research masters at the University of Glasgow and was supervised by Prof Colin Adams.
Kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance in the African cichlid (Neolamprologus pulcher)
In cooperative breeding species such as Neolamprologus pulcher family members remain within the natal territory and assist the dominant male and female with breeding. Typically subordinate adults will help with tasks such as territory defence, egg cleaning and egg fanning. Members of these social groups have been shown to be able to recognise their own kin even when reared in separation. Due to Neolamprologus pulcher possessing such highly discriminatory kin recognition abilities, we asked whether individuals used these abilities to avoid inbreeding with unfamiliar family members?
Using paired trials sexually mature Neolamprologus pulcher were provided the visual and olfactory cues of both unfamiliar unrelated and unfamiliar related fish of the opposite sex in either half of an experimental tank. The trials were replicated but with the visual and olfactory cues mismatched. Each set up was replicated further with the mate sides swapped to avoid bias.
Individuals showed a predilection for unfamiliar related fish, displaying an apparent lack of inbreeding avoidance. In the wild it has been shown that sexually mature males tend to leave the social groups more often than females, possibly meaning that inbreeding avoidance is not required due to the dispersal of related males. Another explanation may be that females may have not been gravid during trials and therefore not choosing a mate, rather reacting to kin recognition as described prior.
Research comprised the first thesis of my research masters at the University of Glasgow and was supervised by Dr Kate Arnold & Dr Ashley le Vin.
Is supervised by
- Salmonid migration