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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

 Ghalia Abel

Ghalia Abel

PhD Student


 Hatherly B11


Hatherly Building, University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4PS, UK


My interests involve understanding animal ethology through fine-scale behavioural recordings and observations to improve the welfare of animals in research and conserve wildlife. Using both aquaria and field-based methods, my research focuses on improving fish welfare by examining and refining the techniques used to attach animal-borne electronic recording tags (biologging tags) to wild fish.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Fish Welfare
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Marine Vertebrate Conservation


BSc (Hons) Marine Biology, University of Exeter, 2019
MSc Animal Behaviour, University of St Andrews, 2020

Research group links

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Research projects

Project Title: Refining the tagging of wild fish
Supervisors: Dr Matthew Witt, Dr Lucy Hawkes, Dr Lynne Sneddon, Dr Gregory Paull

Project Description: 
This project will investigate how to improve the welfare of fish during tagging. The deployment of electronic tags on wild fish and sharks has become an important research tool for conservation, management and scientific learning. Much attention has been paid for the development of these tags, including sensors, data compression, power budgeting, data relay, and materials. Biologging tags have therefore been subject to several decades of technological refinement. Cost and logistical complexity of conducting science in the wild, has however resulted in limited opportunity to develop the most refined ways of deploying tags to ensure they are minimally invasive. Further, management of the life support systems of animals during invasive biologging tag attachment procedures is under-researched and there is scope for procedure refinement. 

Refinements would:

  • Promote improved welfare during and following tagging procedures.
  • Improve recovery times of wild animals once released.
  • Reduce bias and uncertainty, leading to a higher quality in gathered data.

Using aquaria and field-based studies, this PhD will investigate and operationalise evidence-based refinements in (i) wild fish and shark tagging and (ii) life-support management techniques used during tagging procedures, including local anaesthesia and gill irrigation.

Project Funder: NC3RS (The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research)

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