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Rachel Gunn

Science & Ecology

Professional Summary

A behavioural ecologist with a strong research background and substantial experience in the field. Interested in developing a career in research whilst maintaining a passion for public engagement through scientific outreach and communication.


University of Nottingham 2013 - 2016

BSc Hons Zoology.

Bangor University
2016 - 2017

MSc Marine Biology. Thesis title: ‘Are we Making a Difference? An assessment of the status of the invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the Cayman Islands in relation to management efforts’

Lancaster University
2018 - 2022

PhD title ‘Understanding the drivers and consequences of behavioural variation in coral reef fish under environmental change’. Funded by NERC. Supervised by: Dr Sally Keith (Lancaster University), Dr Ian Hartley (Lancaster University) and Dr Adam Algar (Lakehead University).

Tübingen University
2022 - 

Postdoctoral research associate in the Institute of Evolution and Ecology at the University of Tübingen (Germany). Project title TBC.

List of Publications

Gunn, R.L., Benkwitt, C.E., Graham, N.A.J., Hartley, I.R., Algar, A.C. & Keith, S.A.

Terrestrial invasive species disrupt nutrient pathways, reducing reef fish territoriality.

Nature, Ecology and Evolution, In review.

Gunn, R.L., Hartley, I.R., Algar, A.C., Nadiarti, N. & Keith, S.A.

Variation in the behaviour of an obligate corallivore is influenced by resource availability. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, vol.76, 24.

Gunn, R.L., Hartley, I.R., Algar, A.C., Niemelä, P.T. & Keith, S.A.

Understanding behavioural responses to human-induced rapid environmental change: a meta-analysis. Oikos

Lange, I.D., Benkwitt, C.E., McDevitt-Irwin, J.M., Tietjen, K.L., Taylor, B., Chinkin, M., Gunn, R.L., Palmisciano, M., Steyaert, M., Wilson, B., East, H.K., Turner, J., Graham, N.A.J. & Perry, C.T.

Wave exposure shapes reef community composition and recovery trajectories at a remote coral atoll. Coral Reefs vol. 40, pp1819–1829.

Benkwitt, C.E., Gunn, R.L., Le Corre, M., Carr, P. & Graham, N.A.J.

Rat eradication restores nutrient subsidies from seabirds across terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Current Biology vol. 31, 12, pp2704-2711.

Juhel, J-B., Maire, E., Sucré, E., Cheutin, M-C., Marques, V., Benkwitt, C.E., Gunn, R.L., Richards, E. & Albouy, C. From the cradle to the grave: Green turtle hatchlings (Chelonia mydas) preyed upon by two-spots red snappers (Lutjanus bohar). Food webs vol. 21.

Other Experience


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Association (AFHEA). Fellowship reference PR224206.

  • PADI divemaster (#385507). Over 350 logged dives.

Teaching/Supervisory Experience

Lancaster University

  • Demonstrator (2018-2022): Assisting on undergraduate modules, and designing coursework assessments, and co-supervising 4 third year dissertation projects.

Operation Wallacea

  • Reef ecology lecturer (2018). Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. Responsible for lectures and in water SCUBA practicals.

  • Dissertation supervisor (2019). Hoga, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Supervised 7 undergraduate dissertation students during data collection.

Research Skills

  • Fieldwork: Fish UVC and benthic transect surveys, animal behaviour observations and manipulations, territory mapping, coral identification surveys, coral size surveys, 3D modelling.

    • 2020 & 2021: Chagos research expedition. Investigating the role of seabird nutrients/invasive rats on coral reefs.

    • 2019: Scattered Islands on FS Marion Dufresne II. Investigating the role of seabird nutrients/invasive rats on coral reefs.

    • 2019: Sulawesi, Indonesia. Fish reef behaviour project.

  • Laboratory experience: Isotope analysis, PCR, sequencing.

  • Analysis using R: Frequentist, Bayesian and mathematical modelling analyses.


  • NERC PhD studentship [NE/L002604/1] through the Envision DTP.

  • British Ecological Society (BES) outreach grant (OR21/1026), used to create ‘CEADI science’.

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