Naomi Heller

PhD student (lead supervised by A. McIntosh)

Lead supervisor: Angus McIntosh

Ever since I was a kid, I have been captivated by nature and, more specifically, by water ecosystems and the animals within them. Due to my fascination with interactions between animals and their environment I embarked on a BSc in Biology at the University of Bern, Switzerland, where I quickly specialised on aquatic ecology and evolution. For my Bachelor thesis I studied the defence behaviour of the cooperatively breeding cichlid Julidochromis ornatus in Lake Tanganyika depending on predation pressure and group composition. During this time, I became interested in how ecological processes shape patterns of diversity, prompting me to continue my studies with an MSc in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern and at Eawag Kastanienbaum. My thesis investigated the niche structure of the Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) species complex in South Greenland and the impact of charr speciation on the freshwater fish community.

I have a vivid interest in understanding species interactions and how they are affected by their environment, especially under global change. My PhD will explore the impact of environmental variables on the interaction between native non-migratory galaxiids and invasive trout in New Zealand’s streams and rivers. Focusing on the effects on galaxiid demography, I aim to investigate the mechanisms facilitating the persistence of galaxiids in the presence of trout. Mechanistic understanding of these interactions could then be used to predict future interactions under a range of environmental conditions, including those under climate change.

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