research program

The overall goal of our research is to make new discoveries about the causes and consequences of variation in behaviour, physiology, and life history among individuals, populations, and species. We’re especially interested in how that variation relates to threats affecting freshwater ecosystems. We take the approach of integrating diverse concepts and research tools to explore mechanisms operating at the individual animal level.

 

Some of the tools we use most commonly include measurement of life history traits (e.g., growth, survival, diet), analyses of fish behaviour in arenas or with direct observation in the wild, using respirometry to measure metabolic rate, biotelemetry tracking of fish movement and survival in the wild, biologging of variables like heart rate, depth, and body temperature, physiological biopsy (e.g., blood sampling to assess hormones, glucose, lactate), and assessment of critical thermal maxima (CTmax). However, we are regularly adding new measurements to our ‘toolbox’, thanks in part to collaboration with a diverse network of talented people.

 

The research themes below do not represent an exhaustive list. Our program has expanded and changed and will continue to do so in response to research needs and opportunities, especially those that are important to the conservation and management of freshwater fishes.

Thermal tolerance and performance

Thermal biology is a core theme in what we do because of temperature's central role in most aspects of fish ecology, physiology, and behaviour. We're especially interested in assessing how fish perform across temperatures, how fish tolerate rapid changes in temperature, and the roles that local adaptation, acclimation, and behavioural thermoregulation might play in helping fish cope with climate change. A challenge specific to temperate freshwater ecosystems is to develop a better understanding of how changing winter thermal regimes will affect fish populations.

drivers of behaviour

What are the physiological, life history, and environmental variables that are consistently related to variation in behaviour among individuals, populations, and species? We use lab and field experiments, and biotelemetry tracking, to assess behavioural traits in wild fishes. Most of this work is integrated with our other research themes, e.g., examining behavioural thermoregulation in wild fishes, and assessing how fish behave in relation to fishery management boundaries.

fisheries

A key motivation for much of our work is to generate knowledge that is useful for the conservation and management of fisheries. Much of our work has involved assessing and predicting how fish respond to being caught and released in fisheries. Current projects include quantifying fish movement in relation to fishing effort. We are generating new data on metabolic rate with respirometry experiments, and pairing those data with data from biotelemetry studies to develop new bioenergetics models that examine factors driving fish growth, recruitment, and migration.