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Dr Gabrielle Archard


  • Causes and consequences of behavioural variation, including personality
  • Role of stress hormones in animal behaviour and welfare
  • Relating individual variation in behavior and stress physiology to disease susceptibility and transmission
  • Adaptations to ecological variation, particularly predation pressure


I am currently on Maternity Leave, after finishing my MC Fellowship, but am contactable at my Cardiff University email address below.

  • Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow, Cardiff University, UK (2011-2013). The role of host personality and stress responses in parasite dynamics (Para-PeSt, funded by the 7th European Framework Programme)
  • Post-Doctoral Scholar, Pennsylvania State University, USA (2008-2011). Personality and stress responses in the poecilid fish Brachyrhaphis episcopi and Poecilia reticulata
  • Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, University of Bristol, UK (2006-2008) Laboratory welfare and behaviour of Xenopus laevis (BBSRC funded)
  • PhD in Behavioural Ecology, University of Bristol, UK (2003-2006) “Context-dependent mating behaviour in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata” (NERC funded)
  • Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Scholarship, La Trobe University, Australia (2000-2002)
  • Helping behaviour in the cooperatively breeding bell miner, Manorina melanophrys. 
  • Teaching Assistant, Bangor University, UK (1999-2000)
  • MSc in Ecology, Bangor University, UK (1998-1999) Parental care in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca (NERC funded)
  • BSc in Zoology, University Bristol, UK (1995-1998)


Position: Visiting Academic (Honorary), School of Biosciences, Cardiff University


Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 70490

Fax: +44 (0)29 208 74116

Extension: 70490

Location: Cardiff School of Biosciences, Biomedical Sciences Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX (Room C/6.07)



Cock van Oosterhout and Ryan Mohammed catching guppies in Trinidad. © G.Archard (2006)

Prof. Jo Cable, Cardiff University, UK: Ecological adaptations of host-parasite systems. Dr Cable was my host as a Marie Curie Fellow at Cardiff

Prof. Ryan Earley, Alabama University, USA: Remote measurement of fish hormones, links between stress physiology and behaviour

Ryan S. Mohammed, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago: Ecology and natural infections of wild guppies in Trinidad

Prof. Julian Partridge, University of Bristol, UK: Ecology of fish vision

Dr. Cock van Oosterhout, University of East Anglia, UK: Guppy MHC and parasite resistance; modeling of parasite dynamics

Linking host stress responses and personality to parasite dynamics


A gyrodactylid parasite. © T.A.Bakke. These monogenean worms show exponential growth on their hosts. They are ubiquitous ectoparasites of teleost fish, and have a huge economic impact on species used in fisheries, aquaculture and the aquarium trade. This specimen is Gyrodactylus salaris, a species that has devastated the Norwegian salmon fishery.

Behaviours that are consistent across time and context are equivalent to personality in humans. Behaviours, including those relating to personality, are often linked to stress physiology. For example, animals that show a larger hormonal response to a stressor (release more stress hormone) will frequently also show a larger behavioural response, and will generally be shyer, more risk averse, and less active. The link between behavior and stress physiology is likely to be complex, and may be at least partially due to correlated selection, or the pleiotropic effects of one set of genes on both behavior and stress physiology, or behaviour may itself be partially determined by underlying stress physiology. Ultimately, consistent differences in behaviour and/or physiology will have fitness consequences for individuals.

 I am using a fish host – gyrodactylid parasite system (the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, and Gyrodactylus turnbulli) to test the consequences of variation in personality and stress responsiveness on disease dynamics: How do they affect susceptibility to infection, and the transmission of infections between individuals? In many studies of host-parasite interactions, and especially in models of host-parasite dynamics, hosts are assumed to all be similar. However, in reality, this is never the case: As well as personality and stress responsiveness, individuals vary in their sex, age, reproductive status and in many other ways. Using information about the causes of variability in susceptibility and transmission increases our understanding of how parasite populations spread within and between host populations.

This research was funded by a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship, as part of the 7th European Community Framework Programme . The project is officially called “The role of host personality and stress responses in parasite dynamics” (Para-PeSt). It was hosted within the School of Biological Sciences of Cardiff University by Dr. Jo Cable.

The effects of predation pressure on behaviour and physiology

How do ecological variables shape the behaviour and stress responses of animals? I am particularly interested in the role of predation pressure, a strong natural selection pressure in the wild. Prey animals in different populations coexist with different species and numbers of predators. These differences in predation pressure result in predictable differences in a whole range of life history traits, including behaviour and physiology.

The effects of predation pressure are particularly evident in some prey species, where populations differ greatly in the number of predators that they co-exist with. Classic examples of this include some freshwater livebearing fish. I have worked with the guppy (Poecilia reticulata) from Trinidad and Tobago, and the Panamanian bishop (Brachyrhaphis episcopi). Experiments have included both lab and field work, and have involved the measurement of natural variation both between and within populations, as well as experimental manipulations.

Fieldwork in a typical habitat for Brachyrhaphis episcopi , in the Panamanian rainforest  © G.Archard (2008)

Fieldwork in a typical habitat for Brachyrhaphis episcopi , in the Panamanian rainforest © G.Archard (2008)

Female Brachyrhaphis episcopi in a tank in the laboratory © G.Archard (2011)

Female Brachyrhaphis episcopi in a tank in the laboratory © G.Archard (2011)

Aequidens coeruleopunctatus, a common B. episcopi predator found in Panamanian streams and rivers © G.Archard (2010)

Aequidens coeruleopunctatus, a common B. episcopi predator found in Panamanian streams and rivers © G.Archard (2010)

 Behaviour, stress hormones and animal welfare

GAA cortisol

Examples of glucocortiocoid steroid hormones. © R.Palme (2008) Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in fish and many mammal species.

GAA Corticosterone

Examples of glucocortiocoid steroid hormones. © R.Palme (2008) Corticosterone is the primary stress hormone in rodents, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

As well as investigating how stress hormones and personality are related, I am also interested in using measures of stress hormones and behavior to improve the welfare of captive animals. I have measured stress hormones using radio-immunoassay (RIA) in blood samples from Xenopus laevis, the most common amphibian found in laboratories. I now quantify fish stress hormones using enzyme-immunoassay (EIA). Hormones are collected remotely from water samples that have held individual fish: Fish pass hormones over their gills, and these are then extracted from the holding water and analyzed with EIA. This means that even small fish can be sampled, repeatedly and non-invasively.


van Oosterhout C., Mohammed R.S., Xavier R., Stephenson J.F., Archard G.A., Hockley F.A., Perkins S.E., Cable J. (2013). Invasive freshwater snails provide resource for native hermit crabs. Aquat Invas. 8:185-191

Cable J., Archard G.A., Mohammed R.S., McMullan M., Stephenson J.F., Hansen H., van Oosterhout C. (2013). Can parasites use predators to spread between primary hosts? Parasitol. 140:1138-1143

Archard G.A. (2013). Refuge use affects daily activity patterns in female Xenopus laevis. App Anim Behav Sci. 145:123-128

Archard G.A. (2012). Effect of enrichment on the behavior and growth of juvenile Xenopus laevis. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 139:264-270

Archard G.A., Earley R.L., Haninnen A., Braithwaite V.A. (2012). Correlated behaviour and stress physiology in fish exposed to different levels of predation pressure. Func Ecol. 26:637-645

Archard G.A., Braithwaite V.A. (2011a). Increased exposure to predators increases both exploration and activity level in Brachyrhaphis episcopi. J Fish Biol. 78: 593-601

Archard G.A., Braithwaite V.A. (2011b). Variation in aggressive behaviour: Population and sex differences in response to mirror images. Behav Process. 86: 52-57

Archard G.A., Braithwaite V.A. (2010). The importance of wild populations in studies of animal temperament. J Zool. 281: 149-160

Archard G.A., Goldsmith A.R. (2010). Euthanasia methods, corticosterone and haematocrit levels in Xenopus laevis. Anim Welfare, 19: 85-92

Archard G.A., Cuthill I.C., Partridge J.C. (2009). Effect of variation in light environment on the mating behavior of guppies in Trinidad. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 64: 169-182

Archard G.A., Cuthill I.C., Partridge J.C., van Oosterhout C. (2008). Female guppies (Poecilia reticulata) show no preference for conspecific chemosensory cues in the field or an artificial flow chamber. Behaviour, 145: 1329-1346

van Oosterhout C., Mohammed R.S., Hansen H., Archard G.A., McMullan M., Weese D.J., Cable J. (2007). Selection by parasites in spate conditions in wild Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Int J Parasitol, 37: 805-812 

Archard G.A., Cuthill I.C., Partridge J.C. (2006). Condition-dependent mate choice in the guppy: a role for food stress? Behaviour, 143: 1317-1340

Archard G.A., Robertson R.J., Jones D., Painter J., Clarke M.F. (2006). Brooding behaviour in the bell miner.  Emu, 106: 105-112

Archard G.A., Bohan D.A., Hughes L., Wiltshire C.W. (2004). Spatial sampling to detect slug abundance in arable field systems. Ann Appl Biol, 145:165-173


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