Rona Sinclair

I am a post-graduate research assistant. My work primarily involves using lab-based ELISA techniques and longitudinally collected blood plasma samples, from known individuals in a wild population of Soay sheep on St Kilda, to understand and explore variations in levels of key immunity markers (specifically IgA, IgE and IgG assays) throughout the lifetimes of individuals. I have also participated in field data collection on St Kilda for 6 weeks during summer 2015.

Previous to starting work in Dan’s lab my study focused on how individuals within a naturally managed mainland population of Soay sheep vary in susceptibility to parasitism. My BSc Ecology Undergraduate dissertation explored seasonal changes in parasitism levels (using FEC methods) relating to individual host age and sex. This was combined with data collected from a vegetation survey of the study area to understand the plant species available to the sheep for self-medication and natural parasite control purposes.  I am fascinated in further exploring how these marked individual variations in the hosts’ ability to resist and/or tolerate levels of parasitism, through parasite induced immune responses, combined with seasonal foraging strategy adaptations may impact the lifetimes of wild mammals by using this Soay population and the unique environment which they live in as an ecological study system.