What is Physical Ecology?

Physical Ecology is the interdisciplinary examination of evolutionary and ecological phenomena across taxa, populations, communities and ecosystems within a physical perspective. It involves the examination of how organisms have:

  1. adapted to the constraints imposed by the physical environment;
  2. adapted to use physical mechanisms to satisfy biological processes;
  3. matched form to function.

Current Research Projects

I am interested in a variety of topics related primarily to marine and freshwater benthic plants (including algae) and invertebrates:

  1. Mass transfer and the ecophysiology of benthic producers and consumers
    • The effects of fluid dynamics on macrophyte photosynthesis.
    • The effect of fluid dynamics on suspension feeding in bivalves.
    • Biophysical aspects of benthic-pelagic coupling.
  2. Physical-Biological interactions and the larval fish recruitment
    • The effects of roughness on egg dislodgement in walleye
    • the effect of turbulence on egg development
    • the effect of turbulence on larval swimming and feeding in walleye
    • the effect of turbulence on larval development
  3. The physical ecology of reproduction, dispersal, and early life history
    • External fertilization in broadcast-spawning invertebrates.
    • Wind and water pollination.
    • Dispersal and recruitment of macrophytes and benthic invertebrates.
    • Glochidial dispersal and juvenile recruitment in freshwater mussels.
    • Determination of hydraulic habitats of juvenile mussels.
  4. The Physical Ecology of Vegetative Flows
    • Particle capture (including abiotic pollination) in aquatic plants.
    • Physical forcing and hydro-riparian interactions on stream productivity.
    • Pheromone dispersal in vegetated flows.
  5. Conservation and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems
    • Identification of host fish and rearing juveniles of endangered unionid mussel.
    • Determination of the role of benthic processes in hypoxia of lakes

Lab and Field Resources

Laboratory Equipment
Field Equipment
  • Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (Nortek) Constant Temperature Anemometer (NSERC RTI) Digital Particle Imaging Velocimeter (NSERC RTI) Laser Induced Fluorometry (NSERC RTI) Flow Cytometer FlowCam (NSERC RTI) DELL Xenon Workstation (16GB Ram) Oxygen and pH microelectrodes Motorized micropositioner Cantilever beam load cell Compound microscope Dissection microscope Preston-static tubes Portable Fluorometer MultimetersLight Meters UV Vis Spectrophotometer Table top centrifuge Oven and Furnace
  • Eddy Covariance System (NSERC RTI)Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (Nortek)Ultrasonic Doppler VelocimetersAcoustic Doppler Profiler (NSERC RTI)DO Loggers (RBR)Fluorometers (RBR)Weather stationTurbidity LoggerPreston-static tubesPropeller current meter (Swoffer)Integrating Natural Fluorometers (NSERC RTI)Field Deployable Sonde (YSI EXO)Hand-Held MulitmeterLight MetersBenthic sampling equipmentPlankton sampling equipmentPlankton splitterSeston filtration equipmentAluminum Tripods

Laboratory Flow Chambers

  • We have a variety of flow chambers in the laboratory, ranging from small table-top models to a  number of larger chambers. All of our chambers are designed to provide fully developed flow for appropriate boundary layer conditions.
  1. Countertop recirculating flow chamber (40 x 20 x 300 cm; W x H x L)
    • Applications: Flow visualization; Boundary layer characterization
  2. Oscillating Grid System
    • Applications: Testing the effects of turbulence on ecological processes
      • (Image pending)
  3. Free-standing recirculating flow chamber (18 x 10 x 200 cm)
    • Applications: Suspension-feeding studies
  4. Free-standing recirculating flow chamber (17 x 10 x 170 cm)
    • Applications: Suspension-feeding studies; Particle deposition studies
  5. Self-contained sealed recirculating flow chamber (15 x 15 x 120 cm)
    • Applications: O2 evolution in macrophytes.
  6. Countertop recirculating flow chamber (10 x 10 x 100 cm)
    • Applications: flow visualization, calibration, project development
  7. Wall Jet Apparatus (3 x 2 x 100 cm duct)
    • Applications: shear stress modeling, attachment strength
  8. Flow Comparison System Unit (3 Units each with 4 channels of 10 x 10 x 85 cm)
    • Applications: ecophysiology studies, grow studies
  9. Cylindrical tank (45 cm diameter x 200 cm tall)
    • Applications: settling rate, probe development

BEMS – The Biological and Environmental Mechanics Homepage!