Dr Penelope J Watt

Dr Penelope J Watt

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 0076

email: p.j.watt@sheffield.ac.uk


BSc (1986) Zoology, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne;
PhD (1989) Zoology, University of Leeds
PDRA, Imperial College, University of London (1989-1993)
Lecturer, De Montfort University, Leicester (1993-1998)
Lecturer, University of Sheffield (1998-present)

Key Research Interests

images of fish and frogs

I work on fish and my work focuses on:

  • Personality traits, such as boldness and aggression
  • The genetic basis of behaviour
  • Mate choice and sexual selection


Dr Penny Watt is L1 Tutor for APS, the Disability Liaison Officer, and a member of the exams team. She won the APS Departmental Teacher of the Year award in 2010.

At L2 I teach APS272 (Animal Diversity) and APS260 (Animal Diversity Practicals). As a zoologist, I have a real passion for animals and I hope to put this across in my teaching. APS272 covers invertebrate and vertebrate groups and deals with aspects of their evolutionary relationships, structure and function and natural history. My research interests are in behavioural ecology, particularly of fishes, though I have also worked on amphibians and some invertebrate groups in the past, and I hope to reflect this in this module. APS260 also covers invertebrates and vertebrates and is designed to develop observational and identification skills in the field. This module involves lab and museum work as well as field trips to the coast and to a bird reserve.

At L3 I supervise projects (APS330) in fish behavioural ecology in areas close to my research such as personality traits, learning and mate choice. I have an interest in science education in primary and secondary schools, which stems from being a school governor and being involved in science outreach, and I supervise students taking APS340, the University Ambassador Scheme. I am always impressed by the commitment shown by the students taking this module and the fantastic ideas they have that inspire the children they interact with.

I supervise L4 MBiolSci students and recent projects have been involved with investigating the genetic basis of various behaviours in the zebrafish.

Current Research Students

Tolulope Ariyomo 2009 -
Personality traits of the zebrafish, Danio rerio, and the guppy, Poecilia reticulata

Mohammad Ali 2011 - (Kuwait Government) (with Andrew Beckerman)
The Arabian Gulf food web and the effect of salinity on feeding, survival and growth rate of fish

Charlotte Lupton 2011 - (A*STAR) (with H Roehl, BMS & S Jesuthasan, Singapore)
The genetic and neural basis of behaviour in zebrafish

Helen Eachus 2012 - (University of Sheffield)
Behavioural and endocrine analysis of stress responses and the role of epigenetic mechanisms in developmental plasticity of stress phenotypes in zebrafish

Level 4 Students

Sarah Parker (2012-13)
The role of carotenoids in zebrafish

Sarah Robinson (2012-13)
The effect of colour on the behaviour of zebrafish

Recent Publications

Ariyomo, T.O., Carter, M. & Watt, P.J. (2013) Heritability of boldness and aggressiveness in the zebrafish. Behaviour Genetics 43, 161-167

Ariyomo, T.O. & Watt, P.J. (2012) The effect of variation in boldness and aggressiveness on the reproductive success of zebrafish. Animal Behaviour 83, 41-46

Watt, P.J., Skinner, A., Hale, M., Nakagawa, S. & Burke, T. (2011) Small subordinate male advantage in the zebrafish. Ethology 117, 1003-1008

Guevara-Fiore, P., Stapley, J., Watt, P. (2010) Mating effort and female receptivity: how do male guppies decide when to invest in sex? Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 64, 1665-1672

Guevara-Fiore, P., Rosenqvist, G., Watt., P. (2010) Inbreeding level does not affect female preference for non-related males in guppies. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 64, 1601- 1607

Guevara-Fiore, P., Stapley, J., Krause, J., Ramnarine, I.W., Watt, P.J. (2010) Male mate-searching strategies and female cues: how do male guppies find receptive females? Animal Behaviour 77, 1191-1197

Shohet, A.J., Watt, P.J. (2009) Female guppies prefer males that can learn fast. Journal of Fish Biology 75, 1323-1330

Guevara-Fiore, P., Skinner, A.J., Watt, P.J. (2009) Do male guppies distinguish virgin females from recently mated ones? Animal Behaviour 77, 425-431

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