Broadly speaking, my research interests span animal cognition, behavioural ecology, and the link between psychological mechanisms and ecology & function. I am particularly interested in social interactions and communication, and in the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on animal behaviour.
I am currently working as a researcher on a Defra-funded project, led by Dr Andy Radford, investigating the impact of anthropogenic noise on fish and invertebrates. This large three-year project started in September 2010 and combines lab-based and in situ experimental work examining the effects of noise pollution on physiology, development and behaviour, with acoustic modelling and predictive population modelling, to estimate the likely future impacts of noise pollution in the UK marine environment.
This Defra project follows on from the research that we have been conducting in the fish behaviour and bioacoustics lab, led by Dr Andy Radford (with funding from BBSRC and the University of Bristol). This research lab was established in 2009, in order to investigate the impact of anthropogenic environmental changes on fish behaviour, initially using the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) as a model species.
New paper published by Julia Purser and Andy Radford on the impacts of noise on fish foraging behaviour.
Using controlled playback experiments, we have shown that three-spined sticklebacks exposed to even brief noise playback made more foraging mistakes and were less efficient at consuming the available food compared to those in quiet conditions. The foraging mistakes are consistent with a shift in attention when exposed to noise, and in the natural environment these mistakes could be costly: increasing the chances of ingesting harmful items, and affecting the risk of predation if fish have to forage for longer to compensate for reduced efficiency.
In many aquatic environments, noise pollution will often continue for much longer periods than the exposures used in this study, or occur repeatedly, and so we are now examining how the fish may adjust with exposure to repeated or chronic noise.
Ongoing playback experiments are showing that ship noise has significant effects on the physiology and behaviour of juvenile European eels. Watch this space for more details in due course...