Ricciardi Lab
Research on Aquatic Ecosystems

Redpath Museum & McGill School of Environment
McGill University

Home Page

Research Interests

Curriculum Vitae

   Katie Pagnucco
   Josie Iacarella
   Emilija Cvetanovska
   Dustin Raab
   Andrea Morden

Selected Publications

Media Coverage

Invasive Species

Lab News

Graduate Students


Predicting the impacts of nonindigenous freshwater fishes.


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.

Katie Pagnucco


Predicting the impacts of aquatic invasive species from their organismal traits and functional responses.


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.

Josie Iacarella


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.

Emilija Cvetanovska


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.

Dustin Raab


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.

Andrea Morden


Web page design and artwork by Vern Montpetit 2004