Predicting the impacts of nonindigenous
My doctoral research aims to identify
predictable patterns of impact involving
non-native fishes in freshwater aquatic
communities, with emphasis on the round goby as
a model invader. Previous work by our lab (by R.
Kipp, 2010) found evidence that the round goby
enhances benthic algal biomass by substantially
reducing invertebrate grazer populations at some
sites in the St. Lawrence River, but not at
others. Understanding the circumstances in which
round gobies can trigger impacts that cascade
through food webs is necessary in order to
forecast impacts at sites prior to invasion. I
am exploring goby-mediated trophic cascades
through field experiments and multi-site
surveys. I am also using meta-analyses to link
variation in the impacts of introduced fishes in
general to biotic and abiotic characteristics of
recipient communities. Visit my website.
Predicting the impacts of aquatic invasive
species from their organismal traits and
I am generally interested in how an organism’s
functional characteristics and the context of
its environment affect its success and biotic
interactions. Context-dependency is an important
determinant of an invasive species’ impacts and
may be used to predict the potential impacts of
invasives in habitats that are at-risk for
invasion. Previous work in our lab (by Åsa
Kestrup) found that the direction of intraguild
predation in amphipods changed depending on the
conductivity of water; her research exemplified
how an invasive species may have different
impacts under different environmental
conditions. My doctoral research will expand on
this by analyzing how functional traits such as
functional response, aggression, and
physiological tolerance affect the impact of
important aquatic invasive species (eg.
bloody-red mysid shrimp and round goby). I will
compare functional traits between invasive
species and taxonomically related natives with
known impacts, and between invasive species
populations that have been established for
different lengths of time.
Changes to an invasive bivalve population
following the removal of an artificial thermal
plume in the St. Lawrence River.
My M.Sc. research will examine
changes to the St. Lawrence River benthic
community following the closure of the
Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant. The power plant
has been releasing a warm water plume that has
created an artificial habitat for the
northern-most established population of the
invasive Asian clam, Corbicula fluminea.
This species is typically found in warmer
climates and is believed to limited by a
survival threshold temperature of 2°C.
Using field surveys and temperature tolerance
experiments in the lab, I will investigate the
over-winter survival of the St. Lawrence
population of C. fluminea. By examining
the condition and abundance of the population
after a temperate winter, I hope to gain insight
into the adaptive characteristics of this
species. The potential adaptation of C.
fluminea to low temperatures has serious
implications for lakes and rivers in Canada.
Factors affecting the success and impact of
fish invasions in tributaries.
I am interested in the
relationship between non-indigenous fish
invasions and riverine habitat modification -
particularly dams and impoundments. Once
important aids to navigation and sources of
power, dams are increasingly viewed as outdated,
obsolete obstructions to the natural flow of
rivers. In invaded watersheds, such as the
Laurentian Great Lakes, there is concern that
dam removal may facilitate the colonization of
tributary river systems by aquatic invasive
species. On the other hand, reservoir habitat
created by dams is particularly vulnerable to
invasion by non-indigenous fishes such as Round
Goby and Common Carp. Through a combination of
field surveys and experimental work, I am
developing models to predict outcomes of dam
removal on the distribution and impact of
non-indigenous fishes in Great Lakes
tributaries. My work will identify the
environmental conditions and infrastructure that
facilitate or inhibit the spread, establishment,
and impacts of invasive fishes to aid in
decision-making for flow restoration projects.
Visit my website.
Persistence and dispersal of the Asian clam
in northern temperate lakes.
My research focuses on the
invasive Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea)
and the causes of its recent northern expansion.
Specifically, I am studying Asian clam
populations in upper New York State and
southwestern Ontario to explore the
environmental factors related to their
persistence in northern temperate lakes. My work
investigates the environmental conditions that
allow Asian clam populations to persist at these
sites despite prolonged exposure to
low-temperature and low-oxygen conditions during
winter. I am also exploring potential
dispersal mechanisms of the Asian clam through
lentic systems, and rates and stages of Asian
clam shell degradation in various habitats. The
Asian clam has had significant environmental and
economic impacts and therefore is of importance
to invasive species research and management.