Cascadilla Falls

Ackerman Lab

Examining physical-biological linkages in aquatic systems

Lake Erie

Physical Ecology


    Physical Ecology (biomechanics or ecohydrology) is the interdisciplinary examination of evolutionary and ecological phenomena across taxa, populations, communities and ecosystems within a physical perspective.  In our laboratory it involves the examination of the biology and ecology of aquatic organisms within their fluid environment, which is why we apply both ecological and hydrodynamic theories, models, and ideas in our research. 

    The ecological and evolutionary questions that underlie our research interests include the manner by which organisms have adapted to their physical environment, physical aspects of energy transfer through ecosystems, physical-biological linkages in aquatic ecosystems, and the convergent evolution of morphology. We have been fortunate to ask many of these questions within an applied context related to Species at Risk/conservation, industrial ecology, fisheries, and forestry, management.

    We are currently examining the physical ecology of:

    1. Trophic interactions including photosynthesis and suspension feeding
    2. Reproduction including abiotic pollination and broadcast spawning
    3. Physical-biological interactions and larval recruitment
    4. Limnological processes involving hypoxia
    5. Hydrological processes involving benthic organisms
    6. Aquatic sciences including sediment/substrate-water interactions.

    Our lab is actively involved in species and ecosystem conservation and recovery in southwestern Ontario involving unionid mussels, and hypoxia issues in the Great Lakes and their watersheds.

    Please contact Dr. Joe Ackerman if you are interested in joining the lab.

    Fall 2021: PhD Student Assistantships – The role of turbulence in larval fish recruitment (swimming and feeding)

    Funding is available immediately to support a Ph.D. student to examine the effects of turbulence on larval fish swimming performance to inform modelling efforts related to fish recruitment.  A second PhD position is anticipated (pending funding) to examine the effects of turbulence on larval fish feeding and growth to inform modelling efforts related to fish recruitment.