Dr Rebecca Welch
Non-lethal effects of predators and how these effects vary across habitat and landscape types.
Position: Postdoctoral Researcher: South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
Dr Welch’s research interests centre on the non-lethal effects of predators and how these effects vary across habitat and ‘landscape’ types. Apex predators can have both direct and indirect influences on prey and other predators at lower trophic positions. These effects can be seen in an individual’s behaviour and use of space. The level of perceived risk can vary depending on a variety of factors, which can lead to different levels of perceived risk within a single habitat. Animals that are vulnerable to predation, such as prey and mesopredators, adjust their behaviour and use of the landscape in order to minimise perceived risk. Dr Welch’s research aims to quantify and explain these differences in perceived risk by using a combination of field observations and experiments. More recently, she has used laboratory experiments to empirically test observations made in the field. To date, she has published 15 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals reporting on the behaviour of a range of prey and mesopredator species. Dr Welch’s goal is to shed light on the interactions between predators and prey and to generate results that can be used to inform management and conservation efforts. Specifically, she hopes to provide more detailed information on the ways in which non-lethal predator effects impact ecosystems and the species that inhabit them.
Institution and location
BSc. (Hons) Zoology
University of Leeds, UK
Rhodes University, Makhanda
University of the Free State, Bloemfontein