Institute of Marine Science
Dr Neill Herbert
PhD University of Auckland (2002)
MSc Plymouth University (1998)
BSc University of Wales, Swansea (1996)
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 83604
- BIOSCI 207 Adaptive design
- BIOSCI 328 Fisheries and aquaculture (coordinator)
- BIOSCI 329 Biology of Fishes
- BIOSCI 727 Aquaculture
- Aquaculture (Finfish)
- Biology of Fish
- Fish physiology and behaviour
Using fish as a preferred model organism my research uses a comparative and integrative approach to explore the behavioural consequences of impaired oxygen transport, the behavioural regulation of energetic demand in challenging aquatic environments and other concepts involving the interplay of fish physiology and behaviour. Whilst I have traditionally undertaken work within the fields of environmental, respiratory and sensory physiology and behaviour, I have recently expanded into more applied areas by developing a behavioural technology which improves the productivity, quality and welfare of fish in aquaculture.
Broad questions which my research aims to explore include the following:
- What are the behavioural and physiological features of fish responding to adverse environmental conditions? For example, how do fish respond (behaviourally and physiologically) to low oxygen levels? More specifically, what triggers avoidance behaviour? Does stress and a shift in oxygen carrying capacity motivate fish to leave adverse areas?
- Can the behavioural and physiological features of fish be manipulated to improve on farm rearing? For example, can we use the optomotor response (or other sensory manipulations) to promote sustained exercise whereby the productivity, quality and welfare of farmed fish is improved? Previous work in this area has led to the development of OptoSwim (www.optoswim.com)
- How do fish grow when subjected to non-stop exercise? Fish are unique in that they can balance the costly processes of exercise and grow at the same time but we still don’t fully understand the bioenergetics of (or the constraints surrounding) this phenomenon.
- How are fish expected to respond to future climate change (e.g. global warming)? In the first instance, do fish have the capacity to move in response to changing temperatures? To answer this basic question, we are starting compare behavioural thermal preference (using shuttle box technology) against the temperatures where metabolic scope (as a measure of optimal physiological performance) is maximised.
- How are important fish stocks affected by post-release mortality in recreational fisheries? Using a mix of field and laboratory experiments, our intention is to develop useful tools by which we can predict the mortality rate of fish released in recreational fisheries. Our current approach is to resolve how post-release mortality of species like snapper (Pagrus auratus) is correlated to levels of stress and reflex impairment at the point of capture and release.
- What are the implications of individual coping styles (personality) in fish? For example: 1) do marine reserves select for more bold (proactive) personalities and how does this affect the fitness of fish in these protected areas? At a different level, does individual coping style create problems for intensive aquaculture (e.g. growth retardation or “late runting”) where certain individuals are unable to adapt to the seacage environment?
- How does stress affect the visual performance of fish in terms of oxygen transport to the eye? Certain fish when stressed can develop a bulging eye condition called exophthalmia, leading us to believe that oxygen transport to the eye (through the choroid rete mirabile) is affected by stressful episodes. My research is interested in understanding the mechanism of exophthalmia and to provide a solution for the aquaculture industry.
Apparatus and method for influencing fish swimming behaviour (Inventor status: European regional patent No. EP 06726816.9; Chile patent number 2006-0913; other international patents pending)
- Cook, D.G. and Herbert, N.A. The physiological and behavioural response of juvenile kingfish (Seriola lalandi) differs between escapable and inescapable progressive hypoxia. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol (In press)
- Khan, J.R and Herbert, N.A. The behavioural thermal preference of the common triplefin (Forsterygion lapillum) tracks aerobic scope optima at the upper thermal limit of its distribution. J Thermal Biol (In press)
- Cook, D.G., Wells, R.M.G. and Herbert, N.A. (2011) Anaemia adjusts the aerobic physiology of snapper (Pagrus auratus) and modulates hypoxia avoidance behaviour during oxygen choice presentations. J. Exp. Biol. 214: 2927-2934.
- Herbert, N.A., Skjæraasen, J.E., Nilsen, Salvanes, A.G.V. and Steffensen, J.F. (2011) The hypoxia avoidance behaviour of juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) depends on the provision and pressure level of an O2 refuge. Mar. Biol. 158: 737-746
- Herbert, N.A., Kadri, S. and Huntingford, F.A. (2011) A moving light stimulus elicits a sustained swimming response in farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. Fish Physiol. Biochem. 37: 317-325
- Brown, E.J., Bruce, M., Pether, S. and Herbert, N.A. (2011) Do swimming fish always grow fast? Investigating the magnitude and physiological basis of exercise-induced growth in juvenile New Zealand yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi. Fish Physiol. Biochem. 37: 327-336
- Skjæraasen, J.E., Nilsen, T., Meager, J.J., Herbert, N.A., Moberg, O., Tronci, V., Johansen, T. and A.G.V. Salvanes (2008). Hypoxic avoidance behaviour in cod (Gadus morhua L.): The effect of temperature and haemoglobin genotype. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 358: 70-77.
- Herbert, N.A., Skov, P.V., Wells, R.M.G. and Steffensen, J.F. (2006) Whole blood-oxygen binding properties of four cold-temperate marine fishes: blood-affinity is independent of pH-dependent binding, routine swimming performance and environmental hypoxia. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 79: 909-918.
- Herbert, N.A. and Steffensen, J.F. (2006) Hypoxia increases the behavioural activity of schooling herring: a response to physiological stress or respiratory distress? Mar. Biol. 149: 1217-1225.
- Johansen, J.L., Herbert, N.A. and Steffensen, J.F. (2006) The behavioural and physiological response of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) to short-term acute hypoxia. J. Fish Biol. 68: 1918-1924.
- Jordan, A.D., Steinhausen, M.F., Herbert, N.A., Grisdale-Helland, B., Helland, S.J. and Steffensen, J.F. (2005a) Does temperature preference relate to the anaerobic capacity of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) with different haemoglobin phenotype? Mar. Biol. Res. 1: 411-416.
- Herbert, N.A. and Steffensen, J.F. (2005). The response of Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, to progressive hypoxia: Fish swimming speed and physiological stress. Mar. Biol. 147: 1403-1412.
- Jordan, A.D., Herbert, N.A. and Steffensen, J.F. (2005b). Escape performance in three Arctic teleosts. Polar Biol. 28: 164-167.
- Herbert, N.A., Steffensen, J.F. and Jordan, A.D. (2004) The interrelated effects of body size and choroid rete development on the ocular O2 pressure of Atlantic (Gadus morhua) and Greenland cod (Gadus ogac). Polar Biol. 27: 748-752.
- Herbert, N.A., Macdonald, J.A., Wells, R.M.G. and Davison, W. (2003) A difference in optomotor behaviour of two Antarctic nototheniid fishes is correlated with the presence of a choroid rete mirabile and Root effect. Polar Biol. 26: 411-415.
- Herbert, N.A. and Wells, R.M.G. (2002) The effect of strenuous exercise and -adrenergic blockade on the visual performance of rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. J. Comp. Physiol. B. 172: 725-731.
- Herbert, N.A., Wells, R.M.G. and Baldwin, J. (2002). Correlates of choroid rete development with the metabolic potential of various tropical reef fish and the effect of strenuous exercise on visual performance. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 275: 31-46.
- Herbert, N.A. and Wells, R.M.G. (2001) The aerobic physiology of the air-breathing blue gourami, Trichogaster trichopterus, necessitates behavioural regulation of breath-hold limits during hypoxic stress and predatory challenge. J. Comp. Physiol. B. 171: 603-612.
- Herbert, N.A., Armstrong, J.D. and Björnsson, B.Th. (2001) Evidence that the oGH-induced elevation in routine metabolism of juvenile Atlantic salmon is a result of increased spontaneous activity. J. Fish Biol. 59: 754-757.
- Armstrong, J.D., Huntingford, F.A. and Herbert, N.A. (1999) Individual space use strategies of wild juvenile Atlantic salmon. J. Fish Biol. 55: 1201-1212.
- Armstrong, J.D. and Herbert, N.A. (1997) Homing movements of displaced stream-dwelling brown trout. J. Fish Biol. 50: 445-449.
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