Spring 2018

29 April 2018 - By: Daniel Montgomery

Travel grants to go - Daniel Montgomery

Daniel Montgomery

By Daniel Montgomery, University of Exeter, UK

Daniel ventured to Friday Harbor Laboratory (San Jaun Island, Washington State, USA) to attend a training course on “Fish swimming: Kinematics, Ecomorphology, Behaviour and Environmental Physiology”.

The 5 week fish swimming course at Friday Harbor Laboratories comprised of a series of lectures, laboratory research and field work. In the lecture series, sessions covering kinematics of swimming, predator-prey interactions and the escape response of fish were particularly interesting. Although many biologists work with fish, we often do not consider the fundamental processes of swimming and how these may impact on other ecological processes. Therefore spending a significant time discussing this during the lecture series was fascinating.

Outside the lectures, we took part in seining trips to collect fish to be used in laboratory experiments. As well as providing a welcome break from the classroom, these trips were an opportunity to learn about the various species of fish found in the Pacific Northwest, an area in which I have not had the opportunity to work before. In particular, species such as the pacific spiny lumpsucker, silver spotted sculpin, pacific cod, bay pipefish and sturgeon poacher were all highlights of seine catches.

Laboratory workshops covered setting up of flow tunnels and respirometry equipment, use of elastomer tagging for individual ID and methodologies for escape response experiments, but the most useful part of the laboratory work were the group research projects conducted during the final 2 weeks, which allowed us to practice techniques and concepts learnt during the course in an experimental setting.

My current PhD project focuses on the effects of multiple climate change stressors on physiology of UK marine fish. The comprehensive overview of fish swimming provided by the course will allow me to more effectively conceive and design experiments related to swimming performance of fish to incorporate into my research at the University of Exeter. Covering of topics related to behaviour and kinematics exposed me to an area of research that I have not had any previous experience of. I found lectures on the schooling behaviour of fishes especially interesting which led to investigating effects of personality on schooling behaviour and escape response during our group research project. This experience of conducting behavioural research may influence the direction of my research both during and following my PhD.

Additionally I feel the breadth of the course content, the level of detail in which each topic was covered and exposure to new research topics will greatly enhance not just my current research but also my future career.
Category: Animal Biology