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Marcin Penk


Paula Tierney
School of Natural Sciences (Zoology Building)
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2

Email: Paula Tierney




Research interests


My main research interests lie in wildlife parasitology and parasite ecology. I am fascinated by how these small and traditionally overlooked organisms can influence and alter entire ecosystems through their interactions with their hosts.
After studying Zoology in Trinity College at Undergraduate level, I was inspired by my final year research project on the ecological effects of a behaviour-manipulating parasite to apply for my current Research Masters and continue working on how parasites can shape the ecosystems in which they live.
The prominent role of parasites in ecosystems has only begun to be appreciated in recent years: parasites have the potential to alter food webs, influence ecosystem processes and even mediate the composition of ecological communities. I am particularly interested in exploring how parasites can influence the outcomes of biological invasions, which are the second most dangerous threat to biodiversity globally.


Masters Project


My research involves using a fish model to examine some the effects that parasites have on biological invasions. My project is funded by Inland Fisheries Ireland and centres on dace, an invasive freshwater fish in Ireland, and brown trout, a native sympatric species. This will be the first study to examine the helminth community of the invasive dace in Ireland. I will be investigating how the presence or absence of parasites in the invading population may have influenced the invasion success of dace in Ireland. I will be exploring the extent to which dace may have acquired native parasites from their new range in Ireland, and the possible consequences for native fish of sharing these native parasites, particularly for the brown trout which shares habitat with the invasive dace. I will also be exploring how both fish and parasites at the dispersing edge of the invasive population may differ from their counterparts in the core of the range and possess distinct adaptations to dealing with life on the wave-front of invasion.
During the course of my two-year Masters by Research course, I aim to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the composition and structure of the parasite fauna of invasive dace in Ireland?
  2. Does the parasite fauna of dace in Ireland differ from the native range of dace? Does it differ from the likely source population?
  3. Do the parasite communities of dace differ between the invasion front and core?
  4. Is the parasite fauna of invasive dace different to that of brown trout?



Last updated 10 August 2017 by