Research

Can a better environment produce happier and smarter zebrafish? 

Zebrafish are model organisms that are widely used in many different fields but despite their ubiquitous distribution and use, zebrafish welfare has not been extensively studied. Over the course of my Ph.D., I’ll be investigating whether being raised in their preferred environment improves zebrafish welfare, confers cognitive benefits, and/or enhances brain development. Read more…

What aspects of the freshwater environment affect the survival of wild Atlantic salmon embryos through winter? 

In Eastern Canada, Atlantic salmon embryos incubate in the gravel riverbed from late October to early May, during which time they experience challenging and variable winter conditions. During my MSc, I tracked the survival of wild Atlantic salmon embryos and demonstrated that no one environmental variable has a dominant effect on embryo survival. Instead, I showed that embryo survival is best explained by taking a considering the interacting parts the winter environment together. Read more…

How can we quickly and accurately assess salmonid embryo development? 

In hatcheries and research, water temperature is often used to mathematically predict salmonid embryo development. However, many developmental prediction models in current usage are inadequate when water temperatures are close to 0ºC, and are therefore impractical in many coldwater systems. I am working with several researchers to improve these prediction models and develop tools to help validate them. Read more…

When and why did “rock snot” proliferate in an important freshwater Atlantic salmon habitat?

“Rock snot” or “didymo” are common names for Didymosphenia geminata, a type of algae that has been blooming in freshwater streams around the world in recent years. Many ecosystem managers and researchers assumed that didymo was an invasive species, introduced to eastern Quebec in ~2006 when blooms were first noticed. However, my BSc Honours research was among the first to demonstrate that didymo had been present in the region well before that and blooms were instead more likely triggered by climate change. Read more…