Karin Kjernsmo's homepage


Background & Current Research

I obtained a MSc in Biology from the University of Gothenburg in 2009. 
 Later in 2009 I started a PhD entitled "Anti-predator adaptations in aquatic environments" with Docent Sami Merilaita 
 (Åbo Akademi) and prof. Jörgen I. Johnsson (University of Gothenburg). 
 Please also visit 
 my homepage at Åbo Akademi University.


In April 2014, I obtained a PhD in Biology (final grade: Pass with Honours), please find a .pdf version of my PhD thesis here


In my research I am mainly interested in natural selection imposed by fish on 
 different types of protective colorations used by aquatic prey. I'm also interested 
 in natural selection on related behavioural anti-predator adaptations, such as habitat 
 choice of prey with respect to visual characteristics of the available backgrounds. 
 Protective coloration, such as crypsis, warning coloration or eyespots, 
 is an example of an adaptation that helps prey animals to avoid predator attacks. 
 The adaptive value of these protective traits is determined by how predators respond to them, 
 implying that the visual and cognitive abilities of predators should be an important driving 
 force on the selection pressure of the traits.


Studies that in any matter involve animal cognition have 
 previously mainly focused on birds and mammals. More importantly, 
 empirical studies on natural selection on prey coloration have mainly used birds as predators. 
 Considering that fishes are the most ancient form of vertebrates, 
 and that all main forms of protective colouration have indeed evolved 
 in aquatic environments much earlier than in terrestrial environments, 
 very little is known about how protective coloration influences prey 
 search in these environments and how the visual system and cognitive ability 
 of fishes select for different types of protective prey coloration. 
 Yet, even though the selection pressure imposed by fish on protective coloration 
 has not so far received much attention, there exists plenty of basic 
 knowledge about vision and cognitive abilities in fish that is useful for 
 studying this question. In order to investigate these questions 
 I conduct behavioural aquarium experiments using near surface living fish 
 species as model animals with both live and artificial prey types.


Read more about my ongoing research on my Research page.




  • BEEG (The Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology Group at Åbo Akademi University)

  • ISBE (The International Society for Behavioral Ecology)

  • BIOINT (The Biological Interactions Graduate School)

  • ASAB (The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour)

  • FfÅA (Forskarföreningen vid Åbo Akademi)