While much of our current research is on connections between salmon and ecosystems in British Columbia, our studies have ranged from mating systems of arctic birds to conservation of Cambodian snakes. Someday, we’ll really try to focus. In the meantime, a scan below will provide you with a good breadth of the lab's research interests.
Salmon Nutrients and Ecosystems
This is one of the largest field programs on salmon in the world to study ecosystem impacts of salmon. The project encompasses 50 watersheds in a remote part of the Great Bear Rainforest in Heiltsuk traditional territory on BC’s central coast.
The 100 Islands project is a collaboration between the Hakai Institute and researchers at SFU and UVic to link island biogeography with ecosystem subsidies on 100 remote islands on the Central Coast of BC. Studies of plant ecology, breeding birds, small mammals, invertebrates, and washed up seaweed are integrated together to answer broad questions of biogeography in relation to marine-derived nutrients.
A Century of
We explore the abundance, diversity, and productivity of salmon populations and their habitats over the last century using fish scales collected from commercial fisheries and monitoring programs beginning in 1912. Using advanced molecular genetic and chemical tools, we reconstruct historical population abundances and productivity, and investigate ecological questions about the changes these populations have undergone over the last century of human influence.
Together, Dr John Reynolds from Simon Fraser University and Dr Brian Starzomski at the University of Victoria have been coordinating the BC Parks Biodiversity Program, which aims to use community (citizen) science to collect photo observations of plants and animals in BC’s provincial parks. For the past 3 summers we have offered “the best job in the world” to 4-6 students and recent graduates to camp their way around the province, collecting tens of thousands of photos of everything from mosses to moose. This work is exploring the bounds of what can be deduced from community science generally, and more specifically we are learning about the distributions of species across the province, with an emphasis on rare and threatened species.
Life Histories & Extinction Risk
A long-standing interest has been in how fundamental life history traits of fishes, such as age at maturity and body size, are linked to the ability of populations to withstand various levels of fishing. Phylogenetically-based comparative studies of these links between traits, population dynamics, and fisheries have ranged from North Sea marine fishes to European freshwater fishes. We were also the first to demonstrate changes in marine fish distributions in relation to climate change (Perry et al., 2005) and that species that shifted northward more rapidly had faster life histories.