We are broadly interested in the ecology and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.
Our research is tied together by a suite of common themes that are highlighted below.
Applied Aquatic Ecology
We aim to do work that informs management and conservation of coastal ecosystems, to ultimately improve the sustainability of natural resources. By better understanding the consequences of different land use decisions, we aim to better inform the ecological trade-offs of different management scenarios. For example, much of the greater Vancouver area of BC is protected from flooding by a series of flow-regulated gates, called flood boxes or tide gates. Our group is performing field research to examine the effects of flood boxes on water quality and biodiversity. We have a diverse range of projects such as this, ranging from invasive species to culverts to riparian land use, aiming to inform aquatic conservation and management.
Whether it is water supply, sediment delivery, or supporting fisheries, we rely on rivers and their ecosystem services. Watersheds are made up of branching networks, similar to the branching of a tree. We are interested in the connections and flows that link these dendritic structures. Using a combination of data synthesis, theory, and field research, we are exploring how these branching networks influence river biodiversity and stability. This work is inspired by large BC rivers such as the Skeena and Fraser.
Human activities are shuffling communities, with native species being lost, and nonnative species being added. In addition, species can fundamentally alter ecosystem processes such as through excreting nutrients, altering carbon flow, or engineering ecosystems. We are interested in the understanding patterns of this ‘community disassembly’ and the consequences of this change for ecosystem processes. We aim to illuminate the resilience (or sensitivity) of ecosystems to community change. This work has focused primarily on stream fishes and benthic invertebrates and used field experiments, comparative studies, and large-scale data analyses.
Pacific salmon are ecologically, culturally, spiritually, and economically important. Their migratory life-history unfolds over hundreds or thousands of km, linking inland fresh waters with the ocean. Our group works extensively with salmon, their ecosystems, and conservation. Projects include: the sustainability of salmon and their fisheries, responses of salmon to natural disturbances such as forest fires, anthropogenic change and salmon conservation.
We use a diverse analytical toolbox in our research. Sometimes we work on the tools themselves, developing novel techniques to solve analytical challenges in applied ecology. These include Bayesian mixing models for stable isotopes (Semmens and Moore, 2009; Semmens et al. 2009; Ward et al. 2011; Semmens et al. 2013), analyses of fish scales and otoliths (Beakes et al. 2014a), and quantifying fish habitat (Beakes et al. 2014b).
Long-Term Monitoring on the Keogh River
Our collaborative Keogh River research focuses on steelhead and salmon ecology and provides detailed information on movement ecology, migration timing, habitat use and population structure. It also investigates the impacts of environmental and anthropogenic change on salmonid populations. This is one of the most extensive databases on steelhead migration timing in the world with over 40 years of data. Click the Keogh River website link below for more information and an extensive list of publications and partners.