Agnieszka Magierecka

Room 512
Graham Kerr Building
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine
University of Glasgow
G12 8QQ

Tel: 0141 330 3533


Research title

Transgenerational effects of chronic environmental stress

Research summary

The effects of environmental stressors on organisms have been extensively studied in a wide range of phyla, including mammals, birds and fish. It has also been shown that environmental stress experienced by mothers may affect the phenotype and behaviour of their future offspring. The questions that remain largely unanswered are whether chronic exposure of mothers to environmental stressors can cause such effects in offspring and how these are influenced by the timing and duration of stress. Untangling the relationships between these factors would give an insight into the effect that environmental changes (and the potential for increased environmental stress) may have on wild fish populations.

My project aims to address these questions using an established laboratory population of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Only the male three-spined stickleback provides parental care, and so the non-genetic influence of the mother on the offspring is limited to the substances deposited in her eggs or ovarian fluid at the time of egg production and spawning. This provides an opportunity to use an experimental approach to study whether environmental stressors acting upon females in the period leading up to spawning affect the growth, survival and behavioural phenotype of their offspring. This project addresses the question of transgenerational effects of chronic mild environmental stressors using a chronic, unpredictable stress protocol and non-invasive and minimally stressful method of measuring water-borne cortisol. 

Academic and professional history:

  • 2015 - present: PhD student, Fisheries Society of the British Isles funded studentship
  • 2014 - 2015: Research Technician, University of Glasgow
  • 2009 - 2014: MSci (Hons) Zoology (1st Class), University of Glasgow

    MSci project: “Aquatic macroinvertebrates of RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve: A study of benthic community composition and abundance.”                   
    Supervisor: Dr Ruedi Nager (with one year placement at the RSPB)

    Honours project: “Borrelia garinii in grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) – a case of parasite specialisation in a novel host species?”
    Supervisor: Dr Roman Biek


Millins C, Magierecka A, Gilbert L, Edoff A, Brereton A, Kilbride E, Denwood M, Birtles R, Biek R. 2015. An invasive mammal (the gray squirrel,Sciurus carolinensis) commonly hosts diverse and atypical genotypes of the zoonotic pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Appl Environ Microbiol 81:4236–4245. doi:10.1128/AEM.00109-15.


2015 - 2019: The Fisheries Society of the British Isles PhD Studentship

2017: ASAB Travel Grant (£400)

2018: Stickleback 2018 (Kyoto) Student Travel Award (£200)

          FSBI Travel Grant (£1000)

   MVLS Skills Training Award (£1350)




Oral presentations

Magierecka, A. Does chronic maternal stress affect the next generation of sticklebacks? Oral presentation at FSBI Symposium, Exeter, July 2017

Magierecka, A., Aristeidou, A., Ioannou, S., Metcalfe, N.B Chronic stress affects female reproductive strategies across the breeding season in three-spined sticklebacks. Presentation at Stickleback 2018 Symposium, Kyoto, July 2018

Poster presentations

Magierecka, A., Moreland, S., Paton R. Avian diversity in Amazonia: A comparison of survey methods and forest types. Poster presentation at the Scottish Tropical Ecology & Biology Meeting, Glasgow, UK, January 2014

Magierecka, A., Ioannou, S., Metcalfe, N.B. Does chronic maternal stress affect the next generation of sticklebacks? Poster presentation at Behaviour 2017 conference, Estoril, Portugal, July-August 2017


Graduate Teaching Assistant in:

Level 2 Fundamental Topics in Biology

Level 3 Physiology

Level 3 Molecular Methods

Level 4 Tropical Rainforest Ecology (field course)

Additional information

Awards and Scholarships

2014: Cecilia McTaggart prize for Zoology

2011: Lorimer Bursary (Plant Science)

2010: Johannes Hunter medal for Level 1 Biology