My research interests can be separated into three areas: (1) aquatic predator-prey relationships and how physiology relates to the inter-species interactions; (2) the riparian-aquatic interface and how changes in one affect the other; (3) evolutionary changes in the physiology of aquatic organisms in the face of a changing ecosystem.
(1) Understanding trophic interactions is critical
to properly understanding ecological systems, but also for predicting possible
changes to an ecosystem following disturbance. This is especially true in
aquatic systems due to their inherent sensitivity to disturbances. Predator-prey
dynamics are related to energy flows, water cycling, and nutrient cycling
within ecosystems. Community functioning is linked to physiological
characteristics of individual organisms such movement, perception, acclimation
and homeostasis, among many others.
(2) Ecosystems do not exist in a vacuum. They affect
one another in complex ways, and organisms that exist near the interfaces of
distinct ecosystems can have an effect on ecosystem level functioning. The
interface between aquatic and riparian systems is interesting since there is
allochthonous input of nutrients to aquatic from riparian, as well as from
aquatic to riparian ecosystems.
(3) In order to survive and thrive, organisms adapt
to their environments. On an evolutionary scale, certain species are more
closely related than to others. Examining the differences can help explain why organisms exist where they do, why some species are more successful, and how environmental stresses influence further organismal changes.
My research will be investigating the link between fish physiology and aquatic ecology. Specifically, how swimming performance varies within an invasive species, and how it relates to the individuals’ feeding behaviour, morphometric and genetic variation, and susceptibility to parasitism. Variation between fish at the invasion front and those in established areas will also be looked at. This research will shed light on how phenotypic plasticity within populations of invasive fish affects the spread and likelihood of future invasions.